Quinoa chaufa

Stir-fried quinoa with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, leeks, bok choy and egg, tossed with a simple soy-ginger vinaigrette.

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A classic mix of eclectic Peruvian and Chinese flavours, chaufa is a fried rice dish. Quite like Chinese cuisine, rice is wok-fried on high heat, along with eggs, onions, seasonal vegetables, meat and soy sauce. A very unusual but delicious fusion of two global cuisines. Chinese cuisine and restaurants are in abundance in San Francisco, and why not, it has one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia and the oldest Chinatown in the country. Latin American food doesn’t lag behind, with delectable food being served in restaurants, which are flourishing in our part of the world. A step further, we land in Peruvian food land to be precise, and one of my favorite restaurants in the city La Mar, inspired me to create this dish in my kitchen today.

But chaufa means fried rice, so where’s the rice? There’s no rice. The main component is the much healthier and more flavourful grain, the ubiquitous super grain these days, quinoa. And that’s exactly how La Mar prepares their chaufa. With this recipe I feel I have nailed the taste and flavors of the quinoa chaufa I’ve had, and I’m relieved and satisfied! I will give myself a little pat on the back 🙂 I didn’t follow any recipe, just used my head and some culinary creativity.

There is no meat in my recipe, it’s ‘egg-tarian’, it’s got an egg! Lots of seasonal vegetables and a simple soy-ginger vinaigrette. The subtle flavor of ginger really gives it that kick. I’ve used a mix of red and white quinoa. I have started soaking quinoa for at least a few hours, before cooking it. I believe it aids in digesting the grains more easily, and it also removes any gritty or bitter flavour it may have.  I used vegetable stock, thanks to a vegetable soup I was making alongside. I just poured a couple of ladles of stock from there, to cook the quinoa!

Another versatile creation, as one could add any meat and fresh seasonal vegetables, or simply just keep it vegan and vegetarian.

Servings 4

Ingredients :

Quinoa – 1 cup

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Vegetable or chicken stock – 2 cups

2 small carrots, thinly diced

1 leek, the white and light green parts, sliced

6-8 asparagus spears, tough ends removed, and thinly sliced at an angle

8-10 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

A couple of baby bok choys, chopped.

2 cloves garlic, minced

A couple stalks green onions, chopped, for garnish

1 egg

Salt and black pepper, to taste

A pinch red pepper flakes

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For the vinaigrette:

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. fresh ginger juice

1 tsp. honey

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

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In a saucepan, add the quinoa and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, till all the liquid is absorbed and grains are tender and cooked. Fluff the tender grains with a fork and set aside.

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Prepare the vinaigrette. Take a small piece of fresh ginger. Grate it and squeeze out the juice. Add it along with the other ingredients and whisk well. Set aside.

Heat a wok or non stick sauté pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leeks and mushrooms and sauté till leeks are transparent and mushrooms soften.

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Add the red chilli flakes and garlic. Add the bok choy, asparagus and carrots. Sauté for a few minutes ensuring veggies are still crisp.

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Add salt and pepper. Add the quinoa and toss. Add the vinaigrette and toss well.

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In the meantime, whisk an egg and fry in a fry pan, akin to an omelette.

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Remove, cut into thin strips. Add it to the quinoa. Check the dish for seasoning. Garnish with green onions. Serve.

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