Quinoa Chaufa

A healthy adaptation of an Andean classic, Quinoa Chaufa (Peruvian stir-fried quinoa) 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!

Quinoa Chaufa with chicken on a black plate with black chopsticks, a striped napkin, and a glass of wine

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

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Chaufa and Chifa

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 (like pollo saltado), 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) chaufa 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:

Quinoa plants at a farm in Pisac, Peru.

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!

🍚 How to Cook the Best Quinoa

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.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Clockwise from upper left - egg mixture in a wok, egg mixture after it is flipped, stir-frying veggies and chicken, finished dish in the wok.
  • cooked quinoa – Chaufa starts with cooked quinoa (or rice). It’s a great way to use leftovers. I often make a double batch with the intention of having leftover rice for chaufa or fried rice. If you need to make it day of, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool and dry.
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil
  • eggs
  • fresh ginger
  • garlic
  • ground cumin
  • boneless chicken – Either breast or thigh meat will work. You can modify to make a vegetarian chaufa by substituting extra firm tofu or beans.
  • red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
  • English peas – Fresh peas are lovely. You will want to parboil them first. Frozen peas are fine as well.
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • chopped scallions and/or cilantro to garnish

🔪 Instructions

Mis en place (preparation) is important! Chaufa comes together super quickly! You will want to have the cooked 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.

Clockwise from upper left - egg mixture in a wok, egg mixture after it is flipped, stir-frying veggies and chicken, finished dish in the wok.
  • Cook the eggs (1 and 2) – 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.
  • Stir-fry the aromatics – Add a bit of oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and cumin. Stir continuously 30-60 seconds being careful to not burn the garlic.
  • Stir-fry the veggies and protein of choice (3) – Add the vegetables and protein. This is a basic stir-fry drill. Don’t crowd the wok. Stir-fry the veggies and chicken (shrimp or tofu) until it looks cooked. Remove and set aside. Wipe out the wok or pan if necessary.
  • Finish the chaufa (4) – Add the remaining vegetable oil 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. Add the coarsely-chopped eggs. 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!
  • Garnish! I usually chop scallions and cilantro to garnish my chaufa. Both are optional. Sesame seeds are another nice option.
Quinoa Chaufa on a black plate with black chopsticks, and a black striped napkin.

💭 Tips

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove the bitter substance (saponin).

Leftovers are great. Simply reheat in the microwave. The exception would be if you have added shrimp. They get rubbery.

❓ FAQ

Can I use rice?

This is a quinoa chaufa, but you can substitute rice. It should be cooked, cooled, and dry. See this arroz chaufa for more information.

What proteins can I use?

As I mention in the post, on photo day, we did chicken breast. Shrimp is my favorite, and tofu cubes are a great #meatlessMonday option! Because quinoa is a complete protein, it makes a great vegetarian dish, but I would still add some diced, firm tofu.

How many will this chaufa serve?

This is a very generous serving for 2 people. We usually get a lunch out of it the next day as well! Leftovers are fine for a couple of days, though I’d polish off the shrimp when it’s fresh (I don’t like leftover seafood).

How many eggs should I use?

I start with 1 egg per person. Don’t hesitate to vary that amount! Because the quinoa and egg both have protein, I tend to stick with 4 ounces of tofu or animal protein.

🧂 Useful Stuff

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Wok
Peruvian Quinoa
Wok Spatula Set

This is a “go to” recipe at Andersen casa. It’s quick, flexible, healthy, and super tasty. What are you waiting for?

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A black ceramic plate of quinoa chaufa with black chopsticks and a striped napkin.

Quinoa Chaufa

A Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese fusion) dish that combines leftover quinoa (or rice) with healthy ingredients in a one-pot dish that will remind you of fried rice!
4.67 from 6 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 582 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ 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

Instructions

  • 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 teaspoon of oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, 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!

Notes

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.
I love garnishes! I usually chop scallions and cilantro to garnish my chaufa. Both are optional. Sesame seeds are another nice option.
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.

Nutrition

Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 25g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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5 Comments

    1. Yes. You make chaufa like fried rice, and start with cooked chaufa. The goal is to have as little moisture in the quinoa as possible before stir-frying it. Good luck!