Enjoy regional cuisine with … A Taste of Bolivia

Cooperative Living magazine reader Denisse Rueda-Mendivil of Stephens City, Virginia, was surprised to read about 15 electric cooperative lineworkers from Virginia and Maryland traveling to the South American country of Bolivia to help bring electricity for the first time to several villages — including Rueda-Mendivil’s birthplace of Oruro.

She reached out to us through Cooperative Living’s Facebook page, saying, “The people in Oruro are kind and have amazing culinary skills. It would be a disservice not to point out the many delicious things they [the lineworkers] could eat! I could write about Oruro forever. It is a small and magical place! And while Virginia has been my home for over 20 years, where my children were born and where we have made so many wonderful memories, Oruro will always have a place in my heart.”

Many thanks to Rueda-Mendivil for graciously sharing the following Bolivian recipes.

Amanda Cunningham, Staff Writer


From Our Readers:

Bolivian Silpancho


Fried sliced potatoes:
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes
Vegetable oil

3 cups white rice, uncooked
½ red pepper, diced
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (or 1 teaspoon dried), optional
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 lb. thin-sliced soft beef
2 cups breadcrumbs (estimated amount, use as needed)
Adobo seasoning (with cumin, “con cumin”)
Vegetable oil Salsa (topping for meat):
2 vine-on plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
1 jalapeno, finely diced
⅓ cup red onion, finely diced

Fried eggs:
4 eggs Vegetable oil


Prepare potatoes: Add whole peeled potatoes to lightly salted boiling water. Boil about 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked but still firm (overcooking will cause slicing to be difficult). Put potatoes in the fridge to cool.*

Prepare rice: Cook rice as directed. Dice red pepper and red onion. Put in a container and add fresh chopped cilantro or dried cilantro. Store container in fridge until ready to fry rice.*

Prepare meat: Lightly tap and dust both sides of meat with Adobo seasoning con cumin. Pour some of the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Lay one slice of meat over the crumbs, sprinkle more breadcrumbs on top and pound into meat using a meat mallet (or make a fist and pound with the side of your hand). Flip the meat over and sprinkle more breadcrumbs on the other side if needed and pound again so that both sides are well covered in crumbs and meat is flattened out. Repeat on each slice of meat. Store in fridge until ready to cook.*

Prepare salsa: Dice tomatoes, onion and jalapeno and mix together. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.* (Time Saver: Use a food processor to chop onion and jalapeno and then stir in hand-diced tomatoes.)

Fry rice: Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add cooked rice and prepared red pepper, red onion and cilantro. Toss well. Add salt and cook 10-15 minutes tossing frequently. Remove and keep warm in covered serving dish.

Fry potatoes: While the rice is cooking, heat another skillet over moderately high heat and add oil so that it covers the entire bottom and is about ⅛-inch deep. Slice cooled potatoes about ½-inch thick. Add slices one at a time until you have one layer on the bottom of the pan and there is space between each one. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Cover and keep warm.

Fry meat: When rice is done, add oil to emptied skillet so that it is about ¼- to ½-inch deep and heat so that it is hot, but not smoking. Place a few slices of meat in skillet and cook about 1 ½ minutes or until edges become golden brown and meat actually lifts up in the center. Flip and cook on other side about 1 minute or until cooked through. Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil. Repeat with remaining meat. Cover and keep warm.

Fry eggs: (before serving your meal): When the potatoes are done, use the same skillet for the eggs reducing heat to medium-low. Make sure skillet has cooled before adding eggs – don’t cook too fast or the egg whites will become hard before the yolks are cooked. Add eggs individually so they remain separate and fry just until yolks are cooked, flipping once. Serve immediately.

On each plate, serve about 2-3 pieces of meat topped with prepared salsa, about a cup of rice, 5 potato slices and 1 egg (salted if desired).

* Can be done the day before.


From Our Readers:

Bolivian Salsa-Llajua

2 large jalapenos (can remove seeds to reduce spiciness)
2 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon red onion,
chopped Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and add salt in a blender or food processor until slightly pureed. Serve as a condiment to any Bolivian recipe.


From Our Readers:

Cheese Empanadas

3 cups flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
3 egg yolks
Milk (if needed)

1⁄2 pound white cheese, grated (Queso Fresco brand)
3 egg whites

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and mix until crumbly. Make a hole in the center of the dough and add the egg yolks. Knead well. Add a few teaspoons of milk until the dough is the consistency of a nice bread dough. Roll small pieces of dough into balls with your hands. Then roll each ball flat with a rolling pin into an oval (not round) shape. Let it rest while you grate and mix the cheese filling with two of the slightly beaten egg whites. Fill each piece of flattened dough with 1-2 tablespoons of cheese filling. Fold one half of the dough over the other until the two edges match and press together until completely sealed. Crimp or press fork around the edges to seal. With a pastry brush, brush leftover egg white onto the surface of empanadas for a nice golden color. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350° on greased cookie sheets.



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    c/o Cooperative Living,
    P.O. Box 2340, Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340.

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