“Let’s have chifa for lunch today”. It is a phrase that is uttered at least once a week in every Peruvian household. The chifa peruano is a gastronomic specialty that, because it is so delicious and accessible, is part of the daily life of all Peruvians. Have you ever heard of this type of food?
In this article we will explain the basics about chifa. Its origin, ingredients, techniques and we will take you on a journey through the 14 essential dishes if you have already decided to visit a chifa restaurant. You will work up an appetite! So let’s get started.
Chifa Peruano: what are we talking about?
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It is known worldwide that Peru is the most important gastronomic destination in Latin America. Its emblematic dishes such as cebiche, pollo a la brasa or causa limeña are known all over the world and are already prepared in all kinds of restaurants in the five continents, but there are still some recipes that until now have remained a closely guarded secret, only for those who live in our beautiful country. One of those secrets is the chifa peruano.
If you have never heard of chifa peruano, let us explain what it is all about. The chifa fuses Chinese and Peruvian gastronomy. It is a multicultural culinary experience that has almost two centuries of history.
The Peruvian chifa materializes in the kitchen the encounter of two millenary worlds, geographically distant, which in the 19th century had a great sense of fraternity to sit at the table.
Its founders were the first Cantonese Chinese migrants who came to Peru to work in haciendas on the coast. They brought their love for rice and their way of cooking it in the wok. As they settled in the new country, they incorporated local ingredients into their cuisine, and this mixture gradually won the hearts not only of the Chinese community but also of us Peruvians.
Today it is a national tradition that is gradually making its way into the world.
Top 5: What you can’t miss in a chifa restaurant
If you have already decided to live the chifa experience, we want to tell you about the five most popular dishes in this type of food. Keep in mind that each family and each restaurant puts its own unique touch to the preparation of these recipes, so there is a whole culinary world to discover.
Let’s take a look at our top 5: chifa peruano must-try dishes. All of them are delicious!
1.- Lomo Saltado
A dish that is emblematic of Peru and that you can’t miss in a chifa restaurant is the lomo saltado. The recipe is based on beef and combines vegetables and black sauces giving it a unique flavor.
The protein is cut into strips or pieces and must be previously marinated. The searing is done in the pan using the wok stir-fry technique (The “saltado”), over high heat, with a little fat. In this way, the meat cooks quickly and forms a crunchy and delicate skin on the outside which gives it a very special sweet flavor, while inside the tenderloin remains tender and juicy. Vegetables are added and cooked al dente to preserve their nutritional properties and a spectacular taste.
2.- Chijaukay Chicken
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This is a delicious chicken battered in egg white and potato flour accompanied with a salty sauce with a unique flavor. The result, a crunchy chicken, salted and delicious, with a base of oyster sauce, mensi and sillao, plus small pieces of Chinese onion. It is usually served with chaufa rice or white rice.
3.- Tipakay Chicken
Typical Chinese-Peruvian dish. It could be said that it is a version of Chijaukay chicken but sweet. It is an exotic delight to the palate, with sweet and sour flavors that are protagonists. The dish is composed of sliced and fried chicken breasts, bathed in a tamarind sauce with pineapple chunks and holantao.
This dish is usually served with chaufa or white rice and fried wantan.
4.- Wantan Soup
In a good Peruvian chifa restaurant there will always be a wantan soup to offer as a starter. The wantan soup is prepared with pieces of chicken breast and stuffed wantan that are prepared with a thin dough filled with meat, very similar to stuffed corn dumplings, but in this case it is wheat.
In addition, vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, Chinese noodles and chopped onion sprigs are integrated into the soup.
A more robust version of this succulent soup is the special wantan soup, which in addition to all of the above includes other meats such as roast pork and delicious quail eggs.
5.- Chaufa rice
There is no Peruvian who does not know the arroz chaufa. It is the Peruvian version of the typical Chinese fried rice, accompanied by various chopped meats, all prepared in a “sautéed” way, always with soy sauce. It can be chicken, seafood or special, which is the one with all the proteins. It can be eaten as a main dish or as a garnish for other chifa dishes.
When the most voracious hunger lurks and there is no time to wait, peruvians turn to the order of Tallarin Saltado, captivated by its irresistible presentation and a wide range of ingredients that awaken the senses. Who can resist the delight of some fried noodles, skillfully cooked in the wok? It is a veritable festival of flavors, where chinese onion, red bell pepper, chinese cabbage and chinese bean come together in gustatory harmony.
As with most of the dishes served in an authentic chifa peruano, the Tallarín Saltado is marinated with soybean and sesame oil, giving it its unmistakable oriental flavor.
The versatility of Tallarin Saltado allows it to be enjoyed in different ways. Whether accompanied by juicy fried chicken, tender beef, succulent shrimp, juicy chicken breast, tasty pork or simply with a generous portion of fresh vegetables, the options satisfy all tastes and cravings.
Your experience at an authentic peruvian chifa cannot be considered complete without indulging in the Wantan Frito. This appetizer embodies the perfect fusion between Chinese tradition and Peruvian flavors. At the chifa, the Wantan Frito is filled with an irresistible filling of pork seasoned with ingredients such as Chinese onion, ginger and exquisite tamarind sauce.
Carefully fried to a golden brown and crispy texture, it presents itself as a seductive bite that can be enjoyed either as an appetizer or as part of main dishes, such as the legendary Tallarín Saltado. It captivates our palates with its unmistakable delicious flavor and a texture that awakens a symphony of sensations. Once you try it, you won’t be able to stop ordering it every time you visit a peruvian chifa.
8.Kam Lu Wantan
When Kam Lu Wantan finally arrives at your table, you will feel a meditative silence fill the room. A few brief moments will be necessary for your senses to assimilate the presence of this magnificent creation of chinese-peruvian cuisine. It is a dish that, in perfect harmony, intertwines exciting textures and flavors that elevate each other.
The crispy, golden brown fried wantanes come to life with their savory pork filling, captivating with a creative seasoning that is enriched with Chinese spices and condiments. But the sensory experience you are about to live does not end there, their intrepid flavor is further intensified by being immersed in a delicious sweet and sour sauce that envelops them with sweetness and acidity. That’s the alchemy of Kam Lu Wantan. Even if you haven’t tasted a bite yet, your imagination awakens and your taste buds go into overdrive, anticipating the delight that awaits you as you savor it.
9.Fried Siu Kao
Siu Kao is an exquisite snack served in Peruvian chifas. It starts with a round frying siu mai paste, delicately cooked until it reaches a golden and crunchy texture that invites you to take a first bite. As you do so, a world of flavors unfolds on your palate, transporting you to an exotic, marine forest thanks to the subtle blend of aromas from chinese mushrooms and chinese seaweed. The bamboo, chopped in small squares, brings an earthy note and a slightly crunchy texture, while the prawns, with their strategic cuts, become the protagonists of the flavor, merging with the other ingredients and leaving a marine and juicy note in every bite.
The crispy outer crust of this beloved peruvian chifa appetizer melts in your mouth, releasing an exquisite blend of flavors and textures that will pleasantly surprise you. The perfect combination of salt, pepper and sesame oil elevates the experience, creating a delicious balance between salty and spicy that will lift your spirits. In addition, the chuño, sprinkled to taste, adds an extra layer of crunch and a touch of texture that will finish awakening your senses.
10.Chaufa combinado con tallarin
Choosing just one dish from the wide selection on the menu at a peruvian chifa can be a challenge. The chifa masters, aware of this difficult choice, devised the chaufa and noodle combination to captivate the most indecisive palates and offer the best of each dish in a unique culinary experience.
From the first moment the intoxicating aroma of fried rice and sautéed noodles awakens your senses, you realize you are in for something extraordinary. Imagine the explosion of flavors as juicy chunks of meat intertwine with beaten eggs, fresh vegetables and a delicate blend of spices. Each bite is a symphony of flavors, where the silky texture of the rice merges with the firm, soft bite of the noodles, creating an unforgettable dining experience.
11.Pollo con piña
For its irresistible balance of sweet and sour, chicken with pineapple stands as one of the stellar peruvian chifa dishes, capable of reviving even the sleepiest palate. Imagining its juicy pieces of chicken, delicately sautéed in the wok by a master chifero who takes care of the flavor as if his own life depended on it, makes our mouths water. The fusion of the chicken with the freshness and sweetness of the freshly cut pineapple chunks results in an unparalleled taste experience, enriched by the presence of the soy sauce and the acidic touch of the vinegar. Its perfect cooking gives the chicken a tender and juicy texture that comforts with every bite.
Once this delicacy is presented to you at the table, there is no turning back. The magnetic contrast between the sweetness of the pineapple and the saltiness of the seasonings will fully immerse you in a gastronomic journey that will awaken each of your senses.
12.Shrimp with cashews
The flavors of mother earth and the freshness of the sea are reinvented chifa style in this innovative dish, awakening the palate with a creative mix of flavors, spices and textures that will leave no one indifferent.
With each bite, you will feel how the soft shrimp delicately melt in your mouth, releasing their marine flavor and merging harmoniously with the crunchy cashews. Fresh vegetables, such as crunchy carrots, tender broccoli and juicy peppers, provide an explosion of textures and vibrant colors, creating a dish that is both visually and flavorfully stimulating. If you want to try something more adventurous on your visit to a Peruvian chifa, the shrimp with cashews will surprise you with its bold approach and unique blend of land and sea ingredients.
The iconic dumplings of traditional Chinese cuisine are among the culinary delicacies that are also part of the gastronomic family at a peruvian chifa.
Irresistibly tempting, these small bites with meticulously molded shapes conceal a succulent filling that yearns to be discovered. The soft, steamed wheat dough awakens a seductive playfulness as it approaches your lips, anticipating the explosion of flavors that is about to be unleashed.
The first bite of Siu Mai reveals a juicy and tender texture, where the pork, wonderfully seasoned with spices and aromatic herbs, delicately melts on your palate. Each flavor intertwines in a passionate dance, from the Chinese onion that whispers its secrets, to the sillage that leaves a deep sweet and sour trace in every corner of your mouth. The Siu Mai of a peruvian chifa not only addresses your stomach, but directly to your soul, awakening emotions and leaving an indelible mark on your being.
14.Carne con frejolito chino
Seductive aromas fill the air when the exquisite carne con frijolito chino is served at the table of an authentic peruvian chifa. The wok sizzles with joy as the tender pieces of meat, sautéed with passion, release their irresistible fragrance. The perfume of garlic and ginger dances in the air, awakening the senses and whetting the appetite.
In each bite, the softness of the meat combines harmoniously with the creaminess of the Chinese beans, imprinting a sensory memory difficult to forget.
The palate is entranced by a melodious blend of oriental and Peruvian flavors, marked by the umami rhythm of the soy sauce to the slightly spicy touch of ginger.
The silky smooth texture of the meat melts in the mouth, while the Chinese beans bring a comforting sensation. The experience of having tasted the meat with Chinese bean accompanies you even after you put down the cutlery and leaves an aftertaste of satisfaction on every lucky palate that tries it.
I am in Miami and I am looking for a Peruvian chifa near me: Come to Chifa Du kang!
If you are in Miami and want to taste an authentic chifa experience, your best option is to visit us at Chifa Du kang.
We are masters in the preparation of delicious Chinese Peruvian fusion dishes, we can take you on a trip straight to the heart of Peru! Come and meet us, we are located at Kendall and Bird Road. We are waiting for you with your friends or family.
Savor an ultimate Chinese-Peruvian experience at Chifa Du Kang and discover Peru’s best kept gastronomic secret in our menu.