Tacu tacu is a meal in itself -- a filling, nutritious, hard-working man's lunch plate special. It's thought to have originated as a way for enslaved Africans to make an economical meal out of leftovers, and it is certainly now recognized as an Afro-Peruvian specialty.
Traditional tacu tacu consists of a rice and beans pancake, a thin "sábana" (sheet) of steak, and a side of fried plantain, all topped off with a fried egg. It may sound complicated, but it's easy to make and really good. There are excellent seafood versions of tacu tacu as well.
- 5 slices of bacon
- 1 onion (medium, chopped)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (or chili paste)
- 1 1/2 cups beans (cooked, canned are fine)
- 1 1/2 cups rice (cooked)
- 20 to 25 crackers (saltine)
- 4 pieces steak (very thin for stir-fry)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying)
- 2 bananas (or plantains)
- 4 eggs
- Garnish: 1/3 cup onions (thinly sliced)
Saute the bacon until crispy.
Remove bacon (save for another use), and use the bacon grease left in the pan to sauté the chopped onion with the chile powder (or chile paste), until soft and golden.
Stir in the beans and mash them with a wooden spoon until they are pretty well broken up. Add the rice and stir.
Cook, stirring, until the rice and beans are heated through. Remove from heat, let cool, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Process the saltine crackers in a food processor to make fine crumbs. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumbs for later use.
Sprinkle a layer of crumbs on a cutting board, and place a piece of steak over the crumbs. Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper, and pound the steak with a meat pounder until flat and thin. Flip the steak over and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of the steaks.
Heat butter and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet until hot, then sauté steaks for 2 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Remove from heat and place steaks on a plate. Cover them with foil and keep them warm in a low temperature oven until ready to serve.
Cook the rice and bean pancakes: Shape the cooled rice and bean mixture into 4 flattened, football-shaped patties. Press them into the remaining saltine cracker crumbs, covering both sides.
Using the same skillet that cooked the steaks (uncleaned), heat 2 - 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the patties (1 or 2 at a time if necessary) and cook, 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Remove patties from heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
Peel the bananas and slice each in half crosswise. Slice each piece in half lengthwise, to make 8 pieces. In a clean skillet or pot, fry the banana (or plantain) slices in an inch of vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
On each plate, place one of the rice and beans patties. Top it with a piece of steak. Place a slice of fried banana on each side of the plate.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter until hot. Crack the eggs into the skillet and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Top each piece of steak with a fried egg.
Garnish with thinly sliced onions and serve.
Raw Egg Warning
Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.