ECUADOR: Chaulafan de pollo

Ecuador has a large and long-established Chinese community, and there are several Ecuadorian dishes that have a distinct Chinese influence or origin. Most notable is chaulafan de pollo.

The name “chaulafan” comes from the Chinese word for fried rice – chao fan (chǎofàn in Mandarin, and caau faan in Cantonese). This is total speculation, but I bet the “la” comes from the Chinese word for “spicy”, since this dish is normally served with hot sauce.

I’m using this recipe from Laylita’s Recipes – she’s become my go-to for Ecuadorian recipes. Chaulafan is generally pretty similar to other fried rice recipes you might find, though there’s a few distinctly Latin American ingredients – especially Worcestershire sauce and adding raisins. I’m a little skeptical on the raisins, but they’re a common addition for savoury meat dishes (see Chilean empanadas), so I’ll roll with it.

First of all, this recipe makes a HUGE amount of food – your meal prep for the week is taken care of. Cooking the rice in broth adds a lot of flavour, as well as using pancetta, Worcestershire, and soy sauce (if you’re on a low-sodium diet, try something else). The raisins actually work pretty well – they add a bit of sweetness that actually blends in nicely.

I later tried it with a bit of the tamarillo aji as suggested. I was expecting it to be too many competing flavours at the same time, but it was a nice balance – savoury and meaty rice with a sour and sweet sauce, and everything mildly spicy.

The spread of Chinese cuisine around the world with the Chinese diaspora is an interesting story in its own right – a dish as simple as fried rice has many local twists. If you’d like another local twist on Chinese fried rice, check out the Nauruan spam fried rice from last year.

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