A healthy adaptation of an Andean classic, Quinoa Chaufa is a flexible and flavorful one-pot meal similar to Asian fried rice. Customize it with chicken, pork, seafood or tofu to suit your dietary preferences!
Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.
~~ Anthony Bourdain.
The cultural diversity in Peru is astounding, and one of my favorite aspects of this glorious country! Peruvian cuisine has been influenced by a variety of cultures brought by the arrival of immigrants from China, Japan, Spain, Africa, and Italy. One of the most influential immigrant communities is the Chinese, and the fusion of Chinese ingredients with Peruvian ingredients and flavors is exciting!
Chaufa is a chifa-style dish, a culinary tradition that combines Peruvian and Chinese influences.Quinoa Chaufa may remind you of an Asian stir-fry, and the method (and flavors) are the same.
Chaufa is a stir-fry, and most commonly, you will find rice (arroz) and quinoa. Quinoa is a
uniquely Peruvian ingredient (in my mind). I’ve seen it grown in the small plot behind the houses in the village of Pisac. Check out the colorful stalk of quinoa in my husband’s hand below:
Chaufa does not require any fancy or obscure ingredients! If you’ve made fried rice, you should be good to go… soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.
Since we’re doing a quinoa chaufa, start with cooked quinoa. If you’re good at planning ahead, make a double batch so that you can make this delicious, quick, gluten free chaufa!
Rinse the Quinoa!
Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that can make the cooked grain taste bitter or soapy. This coating is easy to get rid of by rinsing the quinoa just before cooking. Boxed quinoa may be pre-rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home.
Quinoa comes in many colors. I’ve spent extended time in Peru (summer 2017 and 2018 for a month each), and try to bring home local quinoa. Marketing guidelines have places some restrictions on varieties (and colors), but I’ve yet to come across one that requires much cooking time. 10 minutes is average.
When you make fried rice, you typically start with day-old rice, right? The same principle applies with chaufa. The moisture content should be fairly low. If you cook the quinoa the day of, try to make it early in the day. Fluff the quinoa, and set it aside.
Mis en Place – Preparation
Chaufa comes together super quickly! You will want to have the quinoa measured out and set aside. Sauce ingredients can be whisked together. All of your vegetables should be prepped, and if you like garnishes as much as we do, get those ready too
Making Quinoa Chaufa
OK. YOU. HAVE. OPTIONS. Shrimp, chicken, pork, tofu… They’re all good! You may choose to serve it as a side or a light lunch, in which case, skip them all.
I start with 1 whisked egg per person. Don’t hesitate to vary that amount! I’m pretty anal about 4-6 ounces of protein, and since the quinoa and the egg both have protein, I go with 4 ounces.
On photo day, I used thin-sliced chicken breast. My favorite is Gulf shrimp (why are you not suprised?). Pork is also delicious… If it’s #meatlessMonday, I’m probably going to use tofu. It’s all awesome!
Heat the wok to very hot (just short of red hot). Add a bit of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Pour in the whisked eggs, and reduce the heat.
Flip when the egg starts to set on top. Give it another minute or two, then remove from the wok, and set aside. Chop coarsely. Wipe the wok of any egg residue.
This is a basic stir-fry drill. Don’t crowd the wok. Add a bit of oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, and cumin.
Stir-fry the veggies and chicken until the chicken looks cooked. Remove and set aside.
Add the remaining vegetable oil. When it is hot, add the quinoa. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce and remaining sesame oil together.
When the quinoa has been cooking 3-4 minutes, add the vegetables and protein (if using). Give it all a good stir. Now, pour in the soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry to combine another 1-2 minutes. It’s done!
I love garnishes! I usually chop scallions and cilantro to garnish my chaufa. Both are optional. Sesame seeds are another nice option.
If you’re looking to change up your weeknight dinners, Quinoa Chaufa is a healthy and flavorful option. If you’re not sold on quinoa (yet), try the same basic recipe with day-old rice.
More Peruvian Recipes
- Peruvian Chicken and Rice (Arroz Con Pollo)
- Peruvian Ají Verde Recipe (Green Chile Sauce)
- Baked Peruvian Style Meatballs with Aji Verde
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Giant Corn Peruvian Salad (Solterito)
- Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup (Sopa Criolla)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (see notes)
- 3 teaspoons vegetable oil (divided use)
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil (divided use)
- 2 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 ounces chicken breast, cubed (see post)
- 1 small red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut in strips
- 1 cup English peas (can be frozen)
- 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- chopped scallions and/or cilantro to garnish
- Heat the wok to very hot (just short of red hot). Add a bit of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Pour in the whisked eggs, and reduce the heat.
- Flip when the egg starts to set on top. Give it another minute or two, then remove from the wok, and set aside. Chop coarsely. Wipe the wok of any egg residue.
- Add a bit of oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, and cumin.
- Add the vegetables and protein. Stir-fry the veggies and chicken (shrimp or tofu) until it looks cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Add the remaining vegetable and sesame oil. When it is hot, add the quinoa. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce and remaining sesame oil together.
- When the quinoa has been cooking 3-4 minutes, add the vegetables and chicken back into the wok. Give it all a good stir. Now, pour in the soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry to combine another 1-2 minutes. It's done!
- I love garnishes! I usually chop scallions and cilantro to garnish my chaufa. Both are optional. Sesame seeds are another nice option.
This is a Quinoa Chaufa, but you can substitute rice. It should be cooked, cooled, and dry. PLEASE RINSE YOUR QUINOA THOROUGHLY PRIOR TO COOKING. See post for more info.
As I mention in the post, on photo day, we did chicken breast. Shrimp is fantastic, and tofu cubes are a great #meatlessMonday option!
This is a very generous serving for 2 people. We usually get a lunch out of it the next day as well!
Macronutrients are an approximation ONLY from MyFitnessPal.com using 8 ounces chicken breast.
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- Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok with Wooden and Steel Helper Handle (14 Inch, Round Bottom) / 731W88
- USDA ORGANIC PERUVIAN QUINOA TRICOLOR 1 LB (PACK OF 4) Black, Red & White Quinoa Kosher - Protein - SUPERFOOD
- 17" l. x 4.25" Home Use Stainless Hand-Tooled Chuan & Hoak (Spatula & Ladle) Set
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 582 Total Fat: 25g Carbohydrates: 43g Protein: 45g