We are welcoming the Year of the Snake in the Chinese Horoscope, by banqueting on one of our favorite foods: Chifa. This kind of cuisine is craved throughout Peru, and is a varied and intensely flavored expression of Peruvian and Chinese fusion. The usual way of eating it is ordering many dishes to share, and excess is always key; so much so, that leftovers are usually good for days or weeks.
The word Chifa comes from the Chinese expression chi fan (to eat rice), and the most famous Chifa dish, arroz chaufa, is a deviation of chow fan (fried rice). In Lima, it’s hard to find a street where one or many of these restaurants are not found, always flashing elaborate Chinese names on the outside (or at least they look elaborate to non-Chinese speakers like us!).
Here’s the recipe for a classic Chifa entree: tallarin saltado. It’s easy to make at home, to turn vegetarian, or to mix and match with other vegetables or meats. But of course, Chifa is always best when you jumble up several preparations in one same dish. So you can start with this recipe, but for a real Chifa experience at home, don’t stop here.
Happy New Year!
- 1 pound egg noodles
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 chicken breast cut in dices
- Salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
- 1 cup pac choy, cut in thick slices
- 1 cup red bell pepper cut in slices
- ½ white onion cut in slices
- ½ cup scallions, cut in thick slices
- ½ cup jolantao, cut in half
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Pisco or Brandy
- ½ tablespoon potato starch
- 1 cup soy sprouts
- Cook the noodles in a saucepan with boiling water for two minutes. Drain and reserve.
- In a wok or skillet over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil, add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through.
- Make a well in the center, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry quickly but do not let them burn.
- Now, add in quick succession the pac choy, bell pepper, onion, and cook for a few minutes. Add scallions, and jolantao.
- In the meantime combine chicken stock, soy sauce, vinegar, Pisco, and potato starch. Add to the chicken - vegetable mixture, and stir until it starts to thicken and look glossy.
- Combine with the vegetables, heat through and add the soy sprouts.
- Serve immediately.
- Note: Do not cut the egg noodles. According to the Chinese tradition, the longer the noodles the longer the life of the owners of the house. Now you know! Good luck and Happy New Chinese Year!