They say that in Lima, we have thousands of Chinese restaurants or Chifas, as we call them. There seems to be one in every corner. They are big or small, humble or up-scale, but one thing they all have in common is that they’re always bursting with people eager to have the best dishes of their menus. We love Chinese food and appreciate its convenient prices, huge portions, and delicious taste. However, it was not always like that.
When the first Chinese immigrants opened small stores in downtown Lima, Peruvians were very suspicious of them. They didn´t know their food and thought very poorly of the quality and cleanliness of their kitchens. As time went by, Chifas became more popular among limeños, and some big households started hiring them as cooks because they loved their interesting flavors.
Cooking this food is not easy for everyone, but there is a dish you can find in every house in our country: arroz chaufa, or fried rice. It is usually made with chicken, pork, or seafood. Some cooks add sausages, or just use plain vegetables, as we did to celebrate the Chinese New Year. You can add whatever protein you have in hand to this vegetarian version of arroz chaufa. To do so, stir-fry cubed chicken, sliced cooked pork or shrimps, and then proceed with the recipe. Instead of peas or peppers, you can add broccoli, and for a little crunch, sliced water chestnuts.
- • 2 cups cold cooked white rice, without salt
- • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- • 2 teaspoons ginger, grated or finely chopped+
- • ½ cup bell pepper (any color) sliced
- • ½ cup snow peas, sliced
- • ½ cup cooked green peas
- • ½ cup soy sprouts
- • 2 eggs
- • ½ cup scallions, sliced
- • 2 – 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- *Heat a wok or pan over high heat, and when it´s very hot, add oil.
- *Add bell pepper, stirring all the time, add snow peas and incorporate the rice, and stir quickly. Make a well in the center and add garlic and ginger. Stir for a couple of minutes, and combine with the rice and vegetables.
- *Add eggs in the center of the pan, scramble and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Add green peas and soy sprouts.
- *Season with soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds and the chopped scallions. Serve immediately.