Sabores de Chile

Sabores de Chile

Our two weeks stay in Chile this last May was definitely framed by eating. We had a spectacular time just being tourists in the grocery store. We shopped almost everyday at the local Jumbo in central Santiago and made feasts for our friends when they came home from work.

The most typical ingredient? Avocados! I think we counted 30 avocados consumed during the two weeks we were in Chile. Avocados and/or a salad of tomatoes and onions seemed a mandatory part of every meal.

We also had the opportunity to go to some amazing restaurants on the coast, but the most memorable meals were the home cooked ones with our friends. Here are some of the stand out recipes and ingredients from the visit.

Piñones Raviolis in a Garlic Cream Sauce

Piñones are important to Chile because they are a food staple from a native tree called the Araucaria, also called in english the “Monkey Puzzle” tree. They grow mostly in the south of Chile around that region’s capital and largest city Temuco. The Araucaria tree is an important part of the history of the Mapuche people and has great spiritual significance.

I was drawn to the piñones right away in the grocery store. I thought at first they looked like huge pine nuts with the husks on. They are tougher than a pine nut though and taste more like a earthy, nutty squash. We decided they would be perfect in raviolis.


1/2 pound piñones
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 cup white wine
1 egg
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dried herbs such as oregano, basil, or rosemary

3 cups flour (“00” or other refined white flour)
3 eggs
Pinch of salt

Cream sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups cream

To make the dough, pile the flour like a mountain on the counter top, make a well in the middle and crack the eggs into it along with the pinch of salt. Begin stirring inside the flour by using your fingers to slowly mix the eggs with the flour. Keep gathering the flour into the eggs until a rough mass of dough comes together. Add flour as needed if it gets too sticky. Kneed the dough by folding and turning it on the counter until it feels smooth and elastic. Slip into a plastic bag and let rest while you make the filling.

To make the filling, toast the piñones in a pan on medium heat until browned. Shake every minute to keep from burning. Let the piñones cool and then peel from their husks. Smash the piñones in a mortar and pestle with the salt and garlic then toss with the dried herbs.

Warm the olive oil in the pan, add the piñones mixture and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until the wine is absorbed. Remove the mixture from the pan, let cool to room temperature. Add the egg once it has cooled and stir together to make into a firm filling.

To make the raviolis, roll out dough into long sheets with a pasta machine or a rolling pin. Put filling in small balls on top of the dough about 1 inch apart. Wet the dough around the outside edges and in between the filling. Put another piece of rolled out dough on top and press down on the outside edged and in between the filling. Cut the dough in between the filling, separate the raviolis and then pinch the outside of the seam together. Place finished raviolis on a baking sheet with a little bit of flour on it and cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.

Put the Raviolis in boiling water for 2-3 minutes while you make the cream sauce.

To make the cream sauce, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the garlic and heat just until fragrant. Add the flour and stir until it looks like a smooth paste. Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the cream stirring continuously until it is mixed.

To finish, carefully add the Raviolis to the pan with the cream sauce and let cook slightly in the sauce so that it all comes together.

Serve immediately. Put some fresh parsley on top if you have it.

Ensalada de Pulpos y Papas

Octopus ARE scary, but so delicious. More people should include octopus in their recipes…


6-10 Chilean potatoes (all different colors and sizes), finely chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium large Pulpos (around 1 and 1/2 kilos or 3 pounds), cleaned with ink bag and beak removed
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 lemons
1 pinch of saffron
1/4 cup pisco
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 bottle of white wine
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Soak the saffron in the pisco. Put the thinly sliced onions in a bowl and cover with the juice of one lemon. Add a few pinches of salt and lightly toss. Let sit until the color of the onion changes to a darker purple.

Carefully rinse the pulpos then cut the arms and head off individually. Add to a pan and cover with the white wine along with a few slices of onion and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer 1 hour on low until it is tender. When done, remove the Pulpos from the broth, let cool, and then remove any of the dark purple coating that remains on the arms. Do not rinse. Cut everything into 1 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, boil the potato pieces in salted water just until tender. Drain and set aside. Heat half the olive oil in the pan and fry the pulpos on high heat. Add the saffron pisco mixture then turn off the heat. Toss the Pulpos with the potatoes, add the soaked onions and the put in a large serving bowl. Salt to taste. Coat the top of the salad with the remaining olive oil and then the cilantro. Add lemon wedges to the top for a nice presentation.

Serve at room temperature.

Mountain Papaya Pisco Tonic

A Chilean cooking collection has to have a pisco drink recipe, no?

This pisco recipe is one with the special mountain papayas that grows in Chile at high elevations. Mountain papayas are different than the tropical papayas we see in the U.S, they look like a small grooved mango and smell tropical and heavenly.

Typical you can buy mountain papayas canned or people make a jelly out of it. We made a fresh purée of them after boiling them in sugar water for an hour and then shaking them up into a refreshing drink.

Mountain Papayas

2 mountain papayas, peeled and seeds scooped out
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tonic waters (we used Fever Tree)
10oz pisco (we used Alto del Carmen Transparente)

Peel the papayas and de-seed. Put papyas in water to cover with the sugar and simmer for one hour. Blend papyas and water in a blender and let cool. Shake papya purée with pisco and pour into 4 tumbler glasses with ice. Top each glass with the tonic water and enjoy.

Chupe Mariscos

We had chupe for the first time at a dinner party with our friend Gabriel’s sister. She prepared this and served it in beautiful clay bowls that “make everything look nicer.” Here is the recipe I tried out on our Michigan friends when I returned home from Chile. This is a quick and dirty chupe with some canned Chilean mariscos given to us as a gift.

There is an important ingredient in the list below called merkén. It is a dried chili seasoning that uses a locally grown pepper called the “cacho de cabra” or goat’s horn chili. The chili is not super hot like the ones  from Hatch, New Mexico, but it has an amazing sweet flavor and is smoked over a wood fire similar to how jalepenos are for chipotle powder. Merkén is typically also sold as a blend that is combined with a portion of salt and powdered coriander. It brings an amazingly distinctive flavor to Chilean food.


2 shallots, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans of mariscos (or you could use 1-2 cups fresh shrimp or other seafood)
1 tablespoon merkén
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup bread crumbs (or I used a baguette thinly sliced and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup grated gruyere or other melting cheese such as jack
Chopped parley for garnish

Preheat the broiler.

Sauté the shallot in the olive oil. Add the seafood and their juices. Add 1 cup water or broth if using fresh seafood (some recipes also add cream instead). Put in the merkén and sauté, then add the wine and reduce the liquid by half. Salt to taste and then add the bread crumbs. Cook just until most of the liquid is absorbed. Put the mixture into oven proof bowls and then top with the cheese. Broil just until the cheese melts and then top with parsley.

Posted in

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.