How you may ask? the answer is through food! In early 1900’s many Chinese people migrated to Peru and brought their cuisine with them. Since they couldn’t use all the ingredients that were not available in Peru yet, they mixed Peruvian ingredients with the cuisine as well as adding the authentic Limean Criollo flavor. Then the fusion happened and Chifa was born. The word Chifa is a mix of Chinese words pronounced in a Peruvian way. Years later, they also brought their ingredients such as green onions, ginger and also seeds to plant some of them.
There is a Chinatown in Lima, called Calle Capon, a street with a huge Chinese tradition and many restaurants. In Lima, you can find a Chifa in every corner and this side of Peruvian cuisine is liked by many locals and tourists too. Years later due to its popularity, Chifa expanded to other countries in South America.
I love all Peruvian food, but Chifa is my favorite. I remember when I was a kid, my Godmother would ask me what would I like to eat and I would say Chifa, she used to make the best homemade Chifa and I learned a lot from her.
Last week I invited my parents over my place for dinner, and my mom suggested since Chinese New Year is coming up, I could cook Chifa. She brought some of the ingredients and we cooked together. Sweet and sour chicken, beef lo mein and pork Chaufa were on the menu.
I wanted to share with you my favorite dish, Tallarin Saltado or Beef Lo Mein, the mixture of the beef with the vegetables and the seasonings give it a unique flavor. Have fun tasting these amazing fusion of flavors.
Yield 4 people
4 lbs of bags Lo Mein noodles
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
½ lb chicken thighs chopped
1.5 oz finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 celery stalk
1 small Napa Cabbage, stalks separate from leaves, both chopped
1 Red Pepper, julienne cut
1 Red Onion, julienne
4 oz Bean Sprouts
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
⅓ cup chicken stock
2 tsp Sesame Oil
Fill three quarters of a medium pot with water to boil. When water starts boiling, add noodles, let it cook for 10 minutes or until tender. When ready, drain and add 1 tsp sesame oil.
Heat a wok on medium heat and add the vegetable oil. In a bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a wok, cook until golden. Remove the chicken and cook the garlic and ginger first, then the chopped cabbage stalks, celery, red pepper and onion. Saute and mix well. Add the bean sprouts and the chopped napa cabbage leaves. Add the soy sauce, chicken stock and the rest of the sesame oil. Add the cooked noodles and mix, season with salt and pepper, serve immediately.
Note: If you get leftovers, the next day taste better!