November 1, 2010

Secco- Peruvian Beef Stew

IMG_7203Yesterday was October 31st and Halloween in Canada. Usually it’s not a really big holiday in my family, and we generally don’t get all prepared and we don’t hand out candy even (my mother’s diabetic… I think it would be deadly to have candy around her), but this year and last year, I have begun to create cardboard box costumes that are actually pretty awesome. They’re cheap to make, you can make them how ever way you want them, it’s unique and gets a few chuckles out of passer-bys. That’s the whole point of Halloween though isn’t it? Kids get candy but as adults, it’s a way to have as much fun as possible, and it sure was fun being in a Big Blue Love-Bot costume and watching people crack up and smile as they saw me clunk past. The boxes I built around my feet would making a clunking noise on the pavement as I had to consciously pick up my feet as I walked, and I guess it was a good thing because it would warn people as I was coming towards them.

I made this costume so last minute… I got the sheeted cardboard from an art store just before it closed the day before Halloween after work, and I made this costume in 4 hours between midnight and 4am…then went into work by 6 in the morning. Yeah I’m a little nuts, but I felt like I had to beat my personal best.

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Last year: Fierce Dinosaur on Church Street (Toronto)     This year: Love-Bot in Granville Island (Vancouver)

I didn’t actually end up doing anything special at night, other than go over to a friend’s place and made Shrimp Coconut Curry (which I forgot to document, so boo you don’t get to know how I made it (it had so many shrimp…mmm)) and handed out candy to kids with my costume on. During the day, I cooked and couldn’t wear the costume for fear of going up in flame and the robot hands really didn’t allow me to be very mobile with a knife. I tried to wear just the robot head, but the paint fumes were still lingering as they had only been sprayed a few hours prior, so I felt a little light headed and thought it safe to take it off. After work though, I put on the whole thing, walked around the Granville Island market, visited some friends while they worked (this pic was taken by my friend at the tea shop on his phone) and watched in amusement as I got a few laughs out of kids and adults alike. I think the adults liked it more than the kids did… and Oh… taking the bus after work was fun too. HAH! crazies on the number 7 Nanaimo bus really liked the costume…

Anyway… how does this relate to Peruvian Secco? Well? it doesn’t but it is definitely a fall/winter dish that makes you feel all cozy and warm so that’s something! I used to have this over at Mama M (G’ma Nino) house during the winter (or summer, it’s good year round) and she would often make it out of beef, but I think it’s originally made with lamb. It’s soooo good. All the cilantro that you put in (yeah, don’t cringe you cilantro haters) it actually changes flavour after you simmer and stew it for an hour. The stew gets all dark brown and aromatic and the meat’s tender and so flavourful and a little spicy. I got this recipe from her one time several years ago when I was over there and she was making it. I lingered in the kitchen with my cooking notebook in hand and asked her, “Oh, how much is that? Mmhmm… would you say that’s about a cup?” after every step. I guess that’s the only way to get any recipe out of mothers as they usually free hand everything. It’s precisely the way I cook usually, and when friends see me cook, they ask me how I know how much is enough, and I say I don’t..but I guess documenting the process for the blog is a good way of recounting how much I actually put in.

I hope you had a great Halloween. Did you have an awesome costume to rival mine? Put up a comment, or a picture on the facebook Kayeon Eats page, and let me know what you did!

Not only was it an awesome holiday, I am auntie to another nephew!!! He was born on Halloween day and is the sweetest, cutest thing ever! He was a brown poopy cow for Halloween. Awwww…..


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  • 1 large pot roast (as much or as little as you like) into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • A few table spoons of Aji Panca (you can get this from South China Seas in Granvile Island, or Perola in Kensington Market in Toronto)
  • If you don’t have Aji Panca, maybe add canned Chipotle and that might be just as good.
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil.

1. Cut up a pot roast into 1 inch cubes. Doesn’t have to be precise, just chop it up. I like to get a pot roast, because it’s cheap, and will become tender anyway with an hour or more of stewing… using a nice cut of meat like tenderloin is nice but I think it is a waste in this dish. Salt and Pepper the meat and set aside in a bowl. Wash cutting board, knife and your hands in hot soapy water.

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2. Dice up the onion and add to a heated pot with oil. Sauté that for a bit until it becomes browned and a little translucent, then add garlic. Keep cooking and stirring.

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3. Wash and spin your cilantro.


4. Add meat to the pot. Woah, the steam’s fogging up the lens! Stir. Put a lid on it.


5. Wash and cut up the carrots into medallions. No need to peel them.

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6. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot. Put lid back on. I just put whole Yukon gold nuggets into the stew, because I don’t like it when the potato breaks down as it cooks for a long time. If you want to cube it up, you can do that too.

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7. Quarter the Roma Tomatoes (you can use any kind really, but I like Roma because it has body but is juicy at the same time. Great for salsa which is essentially what you’re making in here without the red onion) and put them in a food processor. Add a handful of cilantro, chilli pepper, and a pinch of salt.

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8. Add tomato cilantro mixture to the pot.

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9. Put the rest of the bunch of cilantro in the same food processor (no need to wash it after the salsa) and give it a spin to chop it up. Add a couple tablespoons of water to help it get pureed. Add it to the pot.

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10. When it comes to a boil, add cumin, paprika and panca pepper paste. Stir and put the lid back on. Simmer and stew on medium low heat for an hour or more, depending on how tender you want the meat to be. I did it for I think an hour and a half. You can also marinate the beef in a little acid (like lime juice) to help tenderize it before you make this. Serve with rice.

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This is awesome on a cold rainy day. It’s actually pretty quick to prepare, and you forget about it on the stove for a little while and stir it around. It makes the house smell fabulous and makes you even more hungry before you eat it. Yum!


Hope you had a great Halloween!

This recipe was uploaded with permission from G’ma Nino.






  1. I wanted more of this stew. why did you eat it all?! make it again, I command you, my personal chef.

  2. BEST Halloween pic ever! Go Super Boy!

  3. This looks good. I've been making seco for years for my Peruvian GF and her family, but following the traditional method (lots of spinach, no tomatoes, no panca). This looks like a fun variation. Can't wait to try it this weekend.