Wok Picadillo

I was thrilled to get contacted by Associated Press’ Food Editor, J.M. Hirsch to write an article,  “Asian techniques meet Hispanic ingredients”, which got picked up by many news sites around the world including Taiwan and Trinidad!  My local newspaper, Miami Herald picked this up and did a huge feature story and included 2 more dishes!  It all started on Facebook with a request to find out what spices and ingredients were significant in Hispanic cooking!  Whoosh, an avalanche erupted, I love how social media connects people, so join in the conversation.

What a coincidence my Wok Picadillo goes with this month’s theme, Cross Cultural dishes for #LetsLunch.  A fusion mashup using my technique to ‘season’ the ground beef like I would a stir fry but keeping the olives and raisins for a Hispanic touch. There’s so many interesting similarities between Asian and Hispanic dishes like Paella and Fried Rice or Peruvian Chifa.  I’m constantly encouraging people to use their woks for other styles of cooking or even toasting nuts and spices.

Do visit my #LetsLunch buddies posts below for their take on Cross Cultural dishes. And if you’d like to join, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.  Thanks as always to A Tiger in the Kitchen and Cowgirl Chef who started this, connecting us from all walks of life and sharing our food.   Congratulations to Ellise Pierce of Cowgirl Chef with her new cookbook: Texas Cooking with a French Accent, how cool. You can preorder here!

This Cuban Wok Picadillo uses my same cooking process for a stir fry. Many Hispanic students love this approach, you can even see a video of them talking about it here. I learned to use the term “seasoning” instead of “marinading” because I don’t use a ton of liquid to soak my meat like a western marinade, try it you’ll really notice a difference in the texture of your meat!

Do get an rss feed or subscribe to my newsletter in right sidebar because I tend to make revisions to a post after it’s published.  I’ll be experimenting a lot more with adapting other styles of cooking in a wok including my mom’s banana fritters!

Wok Baked Tortilla Omelet and Wok Fajitas (posting soon) are 2 more Hispanic dishes I’ve adapted in my wok, enjoy.

I’d love to hear what Hispanic dishes work well you’ve made in your wok?


Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
1 tablespoon tamari or good (MSG-free) soy sauce
1 teaspoon medium drinking sherry
2 pinches white pepper
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
1 tablespoon canola or other high-heat oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced green olives with pimentos
1/4 cup raisins
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
Juice of 1 lime
Sprigs of fresh cilantro, mint or parsley, to serve

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tamari, sherry, cornstarch and white pepper. Add the ground beef and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.

Set your wok over high and let heat for 1 minute. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and both bell peppers. As soon as they hit the wok, immediately stir them around the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions and peppers are just barely cooked and still firm and colorful.

Transfer the vegetables to a plate. Use paper towels to dry the wok, then return it to the heat.

When the wok is hot again, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic first, then immediately add the ground beef.

Use the back of the spatula to spread the beef across the wok as if frying a wide burger. Let the meat sear on one side until golden brown. This gives your meat a crispy exterior with juicy interior. You can test for doneness by flipping beef in the center of your wok where the heat is the hottest. If it is golden brown, flip all the beef and start breaking it up with your spatula.

Once the beef is just cooked (when you don’t see any red, about 7 minutes), return the onion-pepper mixture to the pan. Add the tomatoes, olives, raisins, cumin, oregano and paprika. Mix well, then reduce heat to medium and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice.

Serve spooned over rice and topped with fresh cilantro, mint or parsley.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 340 calories; 160 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 17 g fat (5 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 3 g fiber; 670 mg sodium.

It’s always fun hopping to these blogs to peek at what everyone else cooked up!  Plse come back as I update this list.

Emma‘s Kimchi Bulgogi Nachos at Dreaming of Pots And Pans

Grace‘s Taiwanese Fried Chicken at HapaMama

Jill‘s Southern Pimento-Stuffed Knishes at Eating My Words

Joe‘s Grilled KimCheese Sandwich at Joe Yonan

Linda‘s Project Runway Pelau: Rice & Beans Trinidad-Style at Spicebox Travels

Lisa‘s Sunday Night Jewish-Chinese Brisket at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lucy‘s Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango at A Cook And Her Books

Nancie‘s Chili-Cheese Biscuits with Avocado Butter at Nancie McDermott

Rashda‘s Mango Cobbler at Hot Curries & Cold Beer

Renee‘s Asian-Spiced Quick Pickles at My Kitchen And I

Steff‘s Chicken Fried Steak at The Kitchen Trials

Vivian‘s Funky Fusion Linguini at Vivian Pei


24 Responses to Wok Picadillo
  1. How to make an edible salad tote
    December 31, 2012 | 9:17 pm

    […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

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    June 30, 2012 | 10:48 pm

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  3. Pat
    May 6, 2012 | 12:41 pm

    I use my wok to cook so many non-Asian dishes from pastas to soups. It’s great! Have to Amit I’ve never tried making picadillo but will definitely have to try your recipe.

    • Eleanor Hoh
      May 11, 2012 | 11:03 pm

      Love hearing you use your wok often, thx Pat! Have a wok baked tortilla omelet ‘recipe’ coming up. I tried leaving comment on your blog, not sure if it worked.

  4. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  5. charissa (zest bakery)
    May 5, 2012 | 11:36 am

    thank you for mentioning tamari (wheat-free) soy sauce! 🙂 I’m seriously considering making some of this to go on my morning eggs. thanks!

    • Eleanor Hoh
      May 11, 2012 | 11:04 pm

      Charissa, that sounds like a good combo, like a Huevos Rancheros, talking about which, I need to investigate that dish to make in my wok! Thx

  6. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  7. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  8. Lucy
    May 4, 2012 | 9:43 pm

    Such a pretty dish! I’ve wanted to try picadillo, and now I have a recipe to try!

  9. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  10. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  11. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  12. […] Eleanor‘s Wok Picadillo at Wok Star […]

  13. A Tiger in the Kitchen
    May 4, 2012 | 12:08 pm

    Congrats on the AP story! Very very cool! And your picadillo looks delicious, too — I’ve been making a spicy stir-fry with some similar components, but with pork! Need to try your recipe soonest…

    • Eleanor Hoh
      May 4, 2012 | 12:15 pm

      Thx Cheryl for your support on AP story & tips. Can’t wait to try your Goan pork curry.

  14. linda @spiceboxtravels
    May 4, 2012 | 11:40 am

    Delicious! You are truly creative with your wok!

    • Eleanor Hoh
      May 4, 2012 | 12:16 pm

      Thx Linda. A wok is so versatile, I love encouraging folks to use it for cooking world cuisine and not just for an Asian stir fry!

  15. Barbara
    April 29, 2012 | 12:32 pm

    Great recipe Eleanor. Congrats on the article with AP!

    • Eleanor Hoh
      April 29, 2012 | 7:02 pm

      Thanks Barbara, hope you’ll use same technique to adapt to your weekday meals.

  16. Celita Lamar
    April 28, 2012 | 5:18 pm

    I make my picadillo with ground turkey these days, but your technique should work as well, I would think. The one thing that seemed missing to me is more sherry. That was always an important ingredient in my mother’s recipe and one teaspoon doesn’t seem like quite enough. I will try it your way then taste and add more sherry as needed.

    • Eleanor Hoh
      April 29, 2012 | 10:36 pm

      Hi Celita, nice to hear from you. Ah, the sherry was to ‘season’ the ground beef for the stir fry. Remember, it has to be dry so you don’t ‘stew’ your meat. Yes, I heard from many Cuban friends they wanted more dry wine in it! Go ahead, add after frying the meat, not for the ‘seasoning’ of the meat. As with any of my dishes, feel free to adjust to your liking, it’s what cooking is all about.

  17. lillian basadre
    April 28, 2012 | 1:17 pm

    what a great and easy way to make picadillo. The possibilities are endless. I usually make a big batch of picadillo that I can then make may dinners from…tacos, chili, picadillo and white rice…this wok picadillo makes it an even easier process! Great job!

    • Eleanor Hoh
      April 29, 2012 | 10:40 pm

      Hi Lillian, what a great idea to use your Picadillo in other ways. Try red or brown rice, but don’t add twice amount of water as directed on package. Proportion is 2 cups rice, 3 cups water. It’s healthier, less starch and sugar than white rice. Has a nutty texture and everyone who’s tried in my class loves it.

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