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What is Silpancho?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Silpancho is a dish very popular in Bolivia that combines a number of ingredients, including eggs, steak or chicken, rice and potatoes. When prepared properly, this tends to be an extremely huge and very filling meal that doesn’t exactly skimp on carbohydrates or fats. In fact, it’s not a dish for dieters, as they might faint at the sight of its pretty extensive ingredient list and the size of the dish.

Most forms of silpancho begin with a layer of rice, typically white rice. Onto this is added steamed potatoes. The next ingredient is breaded steak or chicken that has been pounded thin and fried in varying choices of oil. Many online recipes recommend olive oil. The dish may then be topped with two fried eggs, which are topped with parsley, beets and onions.

A few variants of silpancho recipes exist. Sometimes the meat over the rice is diced and cooked instead of being left in steak form, but this is much less common. Another variant is to place pico di gallo salsa on top of the eggs instead using the parsley, onion and beet topping. Other recipes stray from the traditional by recommending placing the meat in a marinade that includes ingredients like soy sauce.

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Adding salsa or marinating meat aren’t authentic but the dish is not heavily spiced and some may find it lacks flavor in its original form. This is obviously not true for all people and many enjoy silpancho just as is. It’s one of the best-known Bolivian foods, and one that people will look for when they dine at South American or Bolivian restaurants.

Sadly, in areas outside of South America there aren’t very many Bolivian restaurants to find. It is possible to find a few in major cities like New York, Washington DC, and a few other places scattered across the states. There may be other reasons people search for Bolivian food too, besides finding silpancho. In particular meat pastries called saltenas have become very popular in some parts of the US.

When people happen to have the luck of traveling to Bolivia, they’ll be able to try silpancho in its most authentic form. Some etiquette should be observed if dining in Bolivia. First, if a person is invited by a native Bolivian to a restaurant, they should show up 15-20 minutes late, as this is considered polite. Second, if they happen to taste silpancho and don't care for it, don’t talk about it. It’s considered rude to complain about food.

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