In a similar way to the Japanese, the Chinese got to Peru. Not as fortunate on the naming though, the culíes (close to the word “culo”, meaning ass, in Spanish) or Chinese immigrants, actually got to Peru a bit earlier, around mid XIX century. They used to sign 8 year work contracts to be able to move to Peru, where most of them ended up working under slave conditions. However, once they could clear their debts, they would open small establishments, which soon would cover the urban Peruvian landscape. Most of them would become cooks, as that was the activity many of them use to perform in their worker days, so that’s how the chifas (Peruvian-Chinese restaurants) blossomed around the streets. They started to grow the products they missed, so that’s how ingredients like the kión (ginger) or the sillau (soy sauce) were incorporated to the Peruvian recipes on a mutual contagion. The result today is a Chiruvian hybrid, is a very tasteful crossbreeding, not from here, not from there, just in the mouth.
Here is a documentary about the Chifa culture by USMP students:
WE EAT AT... Chifa Titi
Again, like the Nikkei Cuisine, the distinction between the Chinese and the Peruvian-Chinese is extremely subtle. So subtle that at Chifa Titi is unnoticeable, because the service is Chinese, the decoration is Chinese, the food is Chinese. With Peruvian vegetables, yes, but the food is Chinese! Anyway, we had the typical duck dish with chaufa rice (fried rice), quite tasty, excellent service, but honestly the concept of chifa is clearer on theory than on the table.
RECIPE -Peruvian Stir Fry-
According to Gonzalo Dávila, Limean who taught me how to cook it, Peruvian StirFry is a dish with no big science behind it, and which secret lies on the precision of the cooking times of each one of its elements. “Each vegetable has to have a leading role. Everything depends on the size of the cuts and the time on the pan, it must be very precise for it to be crunchy, so when it’s time to have a bite you should feel the different combinations in your mouth. Actually it’s in your mouth where the Peruvian Stir Fry comes together and consolidates.” Gonzalo tells us.
- Red onion
- Mushrooms (optional, not traditional)
- Beef loin
- Vegetable oil, vinegar, soy sauce
- Salt, black pepper, cumin
1. Deseed the tomatoes, peppers and chilies. Cut the tomatoes and red onion in a thick julienne and the chilies in a thin julienne. Laminate the mushrooms and start frying the potatoes and boiling the rice (standard french fries and white rice procedure).
2. Seal the whole piece of meat for a few seconds. In the same pan (a wok preferably) start sauteing all the veg but the tomatoes and mushrooms. Meanwhile chop the meat in long and small pieces (thickness to taste).
3. Before the veg goes soggy, add the meat and fry at a high heat. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms last minute and a splash of vinegar and soy sauce.
4. Let it cook briefly and serve with the fries and rice.
RECIPE -Chaufa Rice-
The word “chaufa” comes from the Chinese chǎofàn, which means “fried rice”. Therefore when we say chaufa rice, we actually say fried rice rice. Sounds like a song.
- White rice
- Chicken in cubes, ham, sausages
- Spring onion
- Aji no moto, black pepper
- Soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil
1. Boil the rice on its own.
2. Chop the spring onion and the ginger.
3. Sauté the chicken, ham and sausages in a pan (a wok preferably). When it’s golden add the spring onion and ginger and let it cook for a few more minutes. Season with the black pepper and aji no moto.
4. Make a french omelette and cut in dices.
5. Add the cooked white rice and add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve with the omelette sprinkled over.