Chofan (Dominican Chow Fan)

Chofan (Dominican Chow Fan)

An estimated 30,000 people of Chinese origin live in the Dominican Republic. Migration from China began in the second half of the 19th century and continues to this day. Many Chinese immigrants also came to the DR from other parts of the region like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Peru and Ecuador.

The early Chinese immigrants to Latin America and the Caribbean came or were brought over to work as labourers in the sugar plantations in the English and Spanish colonies and former colonies after the slave trade became illegal in the 19th century. The ones who followed tended to be entrepreneurs: they opened businesses like laundries, bakeries, supermarkets, and hotels and restaurants.

Chofan (Dominican Chow Fan)

Chinese immigrants to the DR opened popular eateries known as ‘Pica Pollo’ all over the country, selling fried chicken and a combination of Dominican and Chinese food. They also opened more upscale Chinese restaurants in the main cities, and these soon became popular with the locals.

In this way Dominicans of all socio-economic levels got to know and love Chinese food, going as far to make some dishes their own, including chop sueychofán (chow fan) — a fried rice with chicken — and chicharrón de pollo.

Chofan (Dominican Chow Fan)

One such restaurant in the DR was the Chinese-owned Sang Lee Lung roadside stop near Bonao on the highway between Santo Domingo and Santiago, during the Trujillo dictatorship in the mid-20th century. It was especially famous for its chicharrones de pollo. In those days the road was bad and the journey took several hours.

Travellers who stopped at the restaurant included high-ranking government and military officials, and possibly also the dictator himself. As the story goes, the restaurant owners would overhear them discussing their business, and were said to be aware of sensitive information and government plans before anything was made public. It is said to be the origin of the popular Dominican saying “Eso lo saben hasta los chinos de Bonao” (even the Chinese from Bonao know this), which is told to someone who is the last to hear about something.

An article in a Taiwanese magazine in Spanish explains it as follows:

“To avoid problems in those uncertain times, the Chinese who worked in the restaurant would keep firmly silent about what they heard. For this reason, whenever asked, they would say they knew nothing. But really, they knew everything. [The saying] also shows the level of affinity between the Chinese presence and Dominican identity.”

Chofan (Dominican Chow Fan)

Chinese culture in the DR has received formal recognition with the opening of Santo Domingo’s Chinatown as a cultural and tourist attraction in the old Chinese business district in the capital, in the Avenida Duarte area. As well as the site of several popular Chinese restaurants and supermarkets, it is also where the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations are held.

Sources :

Aunt Ilana
Chofan Recipe (Dominican Chow Fan - Fried Rice)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is the Dominican version of the Chinese Chow Fan, or fried rice, another example of how Dominican cuisine has been influenced by the fairly sizable Chinese community in our country, and adapted to the local taste and products.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 3 tablespoons of oil (peanut, corn or soy)
  • 1 lb. of boneless smoked pork chops, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 4 cups of rice cooked using our white rice recipe (will yield 8 cups of cooked rice)
  • ¼ cup of blanched green peas [petit pois - may be canned] (optional)
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
  • ¼ cup of chives diced finely
  1. Heat the oil over high heat in a wok (or a deep bottomed pan, if you don't have a wok).
  2. Add the pork chops and cook and stir till they brown.
  3. Add the carrots and cook and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the celery and cook and stir for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add bell pepper and onion and cook and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add rice and peas (if you use them) and mix well until all there are not clumps of rice left.
  7. Add the soy sauce and mix well.
  8. Remove from the heat and serve. Garnish with the chives.
  9. You can serve it topped with scrambled eggs, as it is often found in our restaurants.

Receive Aunt Clara’s Updates
Find out about new recipes, articles, and sometimes exclusive content.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Asim January 19, 2015, 9:26 AM

    Love your recipes and specially the history behind those recipes. I’m originally from Pakistan but consider myself half Dominican. In 80’s I studied medicine there and then got married to a cibaeña. 27 yrs of Dominican food has made me 100% Dominican.
    Keep up the good work… You are an asset to Dominican Nation!!!

  • Wendy November 15, 2014, 8:21 PM

    Dear Aunt Clara, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your recipes. I was born in the Dominican Republic but raised in the States so I know little about our history. As much as I enjoy the recipes I also look forward to reading the history behind the recipe. Again, thank you for your dedication in sharing your knowledge.

    May God continue to bless you and your family.

    • Aunt Clara November 22, 2014, 8:32 AM

      Thanks for reading, and for letting us know that you liked it.

  • Jen November 15, 2014, 1:41 PM

    You upgraded this piece. You added new things to it. I like it, it reminds me of this Vegan Dominican website that posts uo their dishes through a historical perspective as well. You guys did just that. Im pretty sure you did your market research. Great article.

  • Carmencita February 10, 2013, 1:17 AM

    I got the link to this site from a friend. Ay mama, I am going to be here every day. Thanks for bringing our food to those of us living abroad and missing our tierrita so much.

  • Amie February 9, 2013, 10:48 PM

    Interesting introduction to this recipe. My mom used to make this with leftovers and I have been looking for a recipe for a lont time. Thanks for sharing.