Peruvian Cuisine, Recipes

More Peruvian than Fried Rice? Hard to imagine.

Fried Rice (Arroz Chaufa) with Shrimp

Called simply chaufa, fried rice is one of those dishes that most distinguishes Peru and fills Peruvians with contentment and pleasure. It is found everywhere in often surprising combinations, such as chaufa to the side of ceviche.

LIke many foods around the world considered typical of one place or another, chaufa originates somewhere else. Like other such foods—catsup, fish and chips, and so on—their history with a people and the meanings given to them are what make them typical, so much so that they come to feel as if they had developed side by side with the ancient ancestors of the people. 

Chaufa came to Peru in the minds and hearts of the Chinese who came to work as coolies in Peru during the later half of the nineteenth century.  Unlike in the US, where large numbers of Chinese also came at the same time, the Chinese in Peru intermarried with Peruvians and formed a community that continues to be nourished from China.

The Chinese pioneered eateries in Peruvian cities for the common people on the coast and those simple restaurants appear to be the source for the massive popularity of rice in Peru as well as for the spread of Chinese food among Peruvians.

We can say, as a result, that s the urban working and middle classes of Peru expanded, they found Chinese food and it became just food.  As a result, it could also become as Peruvian as potatoes or chicha.

Except for in rural communities, you will find fried rice served throughout Peru and people love it.  Many will make a meal of a heaping plate of pork fried rice or special fried rice with shrimp and more. 

They dish itself has not changed substantially from the version served wherever Chinese people have landed. Its Peruvian-ness consists in its popularity and that it is losing the idea that it is Chinese primarily.  Now it is just Peruvian.

Here is a simple and common recipe for Arroz Chaufa, Peruvian Fried Rice.

Ingredients:

2 kilos rice that has been cooked without salt, Chinese style, or you can cook up the rice with sautéed garlic as many Peruvians would. In any case it should be previously cooked and cooled to room temperature. 

5 Tbs oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/4  Tsp. Ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate)

1/4 Tsp. sesame oil

1/4 Tsp finely diced ginger

1 Tbs soy sauce

A dash of pepper

salt to taste

1/2 cup scallion greens cut in rounds.

50 grams cooked pork diced in small cubes

50 grams cooked chicken diced in small cubes

precooked shrimp (quantity up to you)

cilantro (coriander) sprigs for decorating the dish

Preparation:

Preheat a wok or a good sized fry pan.  Add your oil and then put in it the beaten eggs.  Season with salt and turn until scrambled and lightly cooked.  Add your rice and the ginger.  Turn and stir constantly.  When the rice is completely heated add your ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate), sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, pepper, and scallions (called Chinese onions in Peru).  Turn a few times and then add your meats.  Keep stirring and turning until they are heated through.  Serve and to each portion add a small  sprig of cilantro

This recipe is edited and translated from a small booklet soled cheaply in Peru’s streets as part of recognizing the hunger people have for Peruvian Chinese food and giving them the knowledge and skills to make it at home.  It lists no authors or publication date. 

Sabroso Recetario Chifa: Saboree las Delicias de la milenaria cocina oriental (Lima, Corporación Chirre, S.A., no date) .

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