Chifa, the Chinese Influence in Peruvian Cuisine

Peruvian and Chinese flags

Peruvian cuisine has received many influences throughout the years; Chinese food is just one of them!Learn what is “chifa,” a dish that arises from the Chinese influence in Peruvian cuisine

For several years, there has been talk in the gastronomic environment about the excellence of Peruvian cuisine. This has led to obtaining many international awards that guarantee the prestige that Peru has as the best gastronomic destination in the world. Even Lima is considered the gastronomic capital of America.

 

Peru has an extensive history of flavors from the arrival of the Spaniards to America, who found a great variety of natural resources that contributed to enrich their diet and help the old continent in the food issue.

 

It should be mentioned that potatoes are ingredients of Peruvian origin, specifically from Lake Titicaca, as evidenced by scientific studies conducted on these tubers directly in the area.

 

But, the Spaniards arrived with other food preferences, the remains of chicken or chicken food were thrown to the slaves. Who in order not to waste anything, took advantage of these inputs to prepare new dishes by adding species; as a result, delicious stews were obtained. From that mixture, The popular “ají de gallina” emerged.

 

The slaves served the bones with noodles forming the so-called “chicken soup,” very popular in Latin America today.

 

But the gastronomic fusion with other cultures does not end there; in 1849, the first Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru to take advantage of legal employment contracts. But once in Callao, they could realize that they had been sold as slaves.

 

Because most of these people were of low purchasing power and were in unknown lands, some worked as laborers in sugar farms, which is why they used small spaces to grow their favorite cereal: rice.

 

The luckiest joined independent work as domestic service, tailoring, business, and restaurants; in this last activity, there was an interesting cultural exchange.

 

Others were taken to the coastal mines to build railway roads and extract guano as fuel.

 

From 1920, Chinese and Peruvian food began to merge, resulting in “chifa.”

 

How did “Chifa” come about?

 

Chifa is a Cantonese term that means “to eat rice,” which over time was interpreted as “come to eat rice.” Around the world, Chinese food is called “oriental food,” but in Peru, it is known as “Chifa,” a word that is used to refer to the premises that sell this type of food, since it became a natural part of the national menu.

 

Peruvians have adopted Chinese food as their own from the coast to the Amazon, in all cities. Nowadays, it is a traditional dish that everyone should try when visiting Peru, especially the city of Lima. The vast majority of restaurants have this dish on their menu, a true classic!

 

Huge portions for the whole family!

 

Chifa is a combination of ingredients brought by Asian immigrants to Peru and is eaten frequently, as it has invaded all the tables in this country. It is usually served in establishments on Sundays. These restaurants almost always serve large dishes, huge portions for the whole family, and numerous groups!

 

Chifa Basic Ingredients

 

Chifa uses South American and Chinese ingredients, including yellow pepper and native pineapple, and ginger plant and soy sauce from China. Essential and popular ingredients of chifa restaurants which has also been incorporated into traditional dishes of the Andes and the Peruvian Coast, becoming a Peruvian dish.

 

An example of chifa is the “Lomo saltado,” a ubiquitous dish that is consumed in all corners of Lima. “Chaufa” corresponds to a typical meal of delicious flavor that arises as a result of the fusion between Chinese and Peruvian food; its origin is Cantonese and means “fried rice,” which usually consists of a main dish with chicken, fried fish or pork.

 

The “tallarines” along with the “Chaufa” are Peruvian and Chinese dishes which are also part of the “chifa” menu. The “tallarines” are yellow noodles mixed with egg and accompanied with chicken.

 

In the Chinatown of Lima, there are many restaurants specialized in this type of dishes; the tricky thing is to choose one. The waiting times are long on Sundays! Entire families visit this place to share with their beloved ones.

Chinese rice

Chinese food is now part of the daily menu of many Peruvian cities.

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