If you’ve never heard of arroz chaufa, you’re missing out on a staple of Chinese Peruvian cuisine, otherwise known as chifa.
Arroz Chaufa is a classic dish that you can whip together in less than 20 minutes. So, how did this dish come about? We’ll need to travel back a couple of centuries to explore the origins of arroz chaufa.
What is Arroz Chaufa?
Arroz chaufa is a fried rice dish, typically served with vegetables, onions, eggs, and meat. It’s a quick and easy meal that you can easily adjust to suit your tastes and available ingredients.
The name of the dish is a fusion of cultures. Arroz is a Spanish word for rice. Chaufa comes from the word Chǎofàn (Chao fan), which is an anglicized name given to Chinese fried rice. It’s also sometimes called Peruvian fried rice.
The main ingredients include:
- Chicken or beef
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Onions and veggies
As with many rice-based dishes, the rice is prepared separately. It’s common to use day-old rice, as the rice is less likely to become soggy or sticky when combined.
Onions and veggies are fried in oil. The meat is added, followed by the cooked rice. Then stir-fry the ingredients with soy sauce. Add the eggs and toss until cooked. The entire process should take 20 minutes or less.
People also often prepare arroz chaufa with leftovers. It’s a great way to use up some of your leftover chicken or beef.
Peruvians didn’t always have access to chicken, beef, or even rice. Multiple cultures introduced these ingredients over the centuries, starting with the arrival of the Spanish.
The Spanish Conquest Brought Rice and Domesticated Livestock
The Spaniards started their conquest of Peru in 1532. Within three decades, the Spanish had wiped out the Inca Empire and most of the population. The Spanish also introduced many elements of European cuisine.
Peruvian cuisine had traditionally relied heavily on potatoes, corn, peppers, legumes, and other native plants. The Spanish brought rice, citrus trees, and domesticated livestock, such as chickens and cows.
Over the years, the remaining Inca people and the descendants of the Spanish colonizers gradually blended cultures and traditions, giving birth to modern Peruvian cuisine.
Native ingredients, including peppers, corn, and potatoes, are common in Peruvian dishes. Rice and other elements of European cuisine are also common, leading to a fusion of flavors and cooking styles.
Chinese Immigrants Introduce Stir-Fry Cooking and Soy Sauce
While the Spanish brought rice to Peru, the Chinese immigrants introduced new ways of cooking with it. In the mid to late 1800s, several waves of Chinese workers immigrated to the country. Over 100,000 Chinese immigrants arrived by the end of the century.
The large influx of workers resulted in another fusion of cooking techniques. This new Chinese Peruvian cuisine was called “chifa”. It included many of the staples of traditional Peruvian cuisine, including the use of peppers and vegetables, along with Chinese influences, such as stir-fry cooking and the use of soy sauce.
Arroz chaufa is one of the most popular examples of this fusion. It involves combining fried rice with veggies, eggs, meat, and soy sauce over high heat.
Many Peruvian families use this as a go-to dish for frying up leftovers. Many variations of the dish have also appeared over the years, such as a version made with salted dried meat known as cecina and a type of cooking banana called maduros.
You can also prepare it with any meat of your choice. Common choices include chicken, beef, pork, duck, and seafood. It’s also occasionally served with jerky, which is another traditional Peruvian food that originated in the country.
In the end, arroz chaufa came about after the Spanish brought rice and the Chinese brought stir-fry cooking. It’s a fusion of cooking styles that perfectly encapsulates what people love about Peruvian cuisine. Come try our Arroz Chaufa today!