I was happy to revisit South American cuisine this week! The Chileans I spoke to on Reddit were very friendly and helped a lot with suggesting food from Chile to include.
Chile is located in South America and takes up a large part of the west coast. Chile also controls a few Pacific islands and claims a part of Antarctica.
The Inca were one of the main original inhabitants of Chile, until Spain came in the mid-16th century. Chile declared independence in 1818, beginning as an authoritarian republic before becoming more democratic in the 20th century. There was some political turmoil during the 1960s and 1970s, but presently Chile is one of the most economically and socially stable countries in South America.
What Do People Eat in Chile?
Meals in Chile tend to be primarily influenced by a combination of Spanish and indigenous cuisine, but since the 19th century, a wider range of immigrants began to arrive. This resulted in Chile adopting sausages from Germany and pasta from Italy, among other things.
Many kinds of fruits and vegetables are grown in the country, with potatoes, maize, beans, and pumpkin being popular ingredients in many meals.
Because there is such a long coastline, Chileans enjoy a wide variety of seafood, though all kinds of meat are also commonly used.
Cuisine can vary depending on what part of the country you are in. In the north, traditional cuisine includes alpaca and llama meat, which is less common further south. In general though, Chilean cuisine has many similarities to neighboring countries, including dishes such as empanadas, locro (a stew that I made for Argentina), and asado, which is a term used for meat cooked on a barbecue.
Chile is one of the world’s largest wine producers, so many Chilean dishes make use of local wine.
Dulce de leche was invented in Chile, and is now popular in many other South and Central American countries. It is used in Chilean desserts such as brazo de reina, a type of Swiss roll.
What I Made
- Chorrillana (Fries with Steak, Caramelized Onions, and Egg)
- Charquican (Beef, Potato, and Squash Stew)
- Paila Marina (Seafood Soup)
- Porotos con Riendas (Bean, Squash, and Pasta Stew)
- Pebre (Fresh Tomato Salsa)
- Pan Amasado (Bread Rolls)
- Pastel de Choclo (Corn and Beef Pie)
- Churrasco a lo Pobre (Steak Sandwich with Egg, Caramelized Onions, and Fries)
Scroll down to read about other popular Chilean dishes I didn’t make!
Chorrillana (Fries with Steak, Caramelized Onions, and Egg)
Chorrillana is a simple yet delicious dish. The steak is marinated with garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Then it’s cooked and mixed with caramelized onions. This mixture goes on top of some French Fries, and then an egg goes on top of that. I added hot sauce after I took the photo.
This is the kind of thing that you could assemble without a recipe, but I followed one from Amigo Foods. My one gripe with this recipe is that the instructions given do not result in caramelized onions—they instruct to cook them for only a few minutes. Actual caramelized onions take at least 20 minutes even for a small batch, and usually longer to get them really nice. I made sure to caramelize my onions properly! I used sirloin instead of the filet mignon, and I used frozen French fries instead of making my own. This still turned out delicious!
Charquican (Beef, Potato, and Squash Stew)
This is a popular stew though as you can see, it is often much thicker than most stews. It is named after charqui, which is dried meat that was common in Chile before refrigeration. Nowadays, regular ground beef is often used instead. Pumpkin is the other main ingredient, and different vegetables can be added depending on the season.
I made a winter charquican with ground beef, onion, butternut squash, potato, corn, and peas. It was seasoned with paprika, Mexican oregano, and cumin, and topped with an egg, which I was told is very important. I didn’t need to be told twice because, as you’ll know if you’ve been following me on this challenge, I love putting eggs on things.
I really enjoyed this. I don’t always love pumpkin, but I though it was great in this dish and the flavors all worked really well. I used the recipe from Chilean Food & Garden.
Paila Marina (Seafood Soup)
Paila marina is a seafood soup containing a variety of seafood cooked in a shellfish stock base. It was featured in a Breaking Bad episode once; Gus serves it when he invites Walter over for dinner one night.
I cheated a bit and used store-bought stock and a frozen seafood mix. This was mostly because I wasn’t making a large amount and I wanted to still have a good variety of seafood.
I followed a recipe from Amigo Foods kind of loosely. I used cod and the seafood mix (calamari, mussels, clams, and shrimp) instead of the seafood. I also topped with fresh cilantro, as suggested in another recipe.
This was quite good. I served it with some fresh bread (and wine, because someone has to drink what didn’t go in the soup!) I bet it would have been even better with fresh seafood.
Porotos con Riendas (Bean, Squash, and Pasta Stew)
There were a few dishes that the Chileans on Reddit considered ‘the most Chilean dish’ and this was one of them. I hadn’t been planning to try it before that, because it didn’t sound like it would be that good, but it got such high praise that I decided to include it.
Porotos con riendas is a stew featuring sausage, onion, beans, squash, and spaghetti. I used another recipe from Chilean Food and Garden. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. It turned out really good, and it was so easy too!
Pebre (Fresh Tomato Salsa)
Pebre is found alongside many meals in Chile, often with bread such as pan amasado (see below). There are a few varieties, with some being more of a cilantro sauce, but the version I made is a fresh tomato salsa, similar to pico de gallo. It’s made with tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, a little chili, olive oil, salt, and red wine vinegar. I served it with pan amasado and it was delicious!
The recipe I used is from Bacon Is Magic.
Pan Amasado (Bread Rolls)
Pan amasado is a popular bread in Chile and is often served with pebre (above). I made sandwiches with some of the leftovers, such as churrasco, further down.
I used the recipe from Tara’s Multicultural Table. These rolls tasted delicious but they are meant to be pierced with a fork before baking and I evidently needed to pierce deeper because you can hardly see the holes.
Pastel de Choclo (Corn and Beef Pie)
Pastel de choclo is Chile’s national dish. The bottom layer is a delicious mix of meat, onion, and spices, and the top is made mostly of corn, with some fresh basil mixed in.
There are a few optional ingredients that can be put on top of the beef before adding the corn layer, including cooked chicken, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and raisins. I omitted these since I didn’t need that much food on the night I was making this.
I used the recipe from Chilean Food and Garden and it was delicious!
Churrasco a lo Pobre (Steak Sandwich with Egg, Caramelized Onions, and Fries)
Churrasco is the name for a popular steak sandwich in Chile, and it can have a variety of toppings. Some common topping combinations are tomato and green beans and tomato and avocado. I chose to make churrasco a lo pobre or chemilico, which is topped with caramelized onions and a fried egg and usually served with fries. It was really good, as you might expect. I used some of my leftover pan amasado for the bun.
No recipe here! I just caramelized some onions, cooked some sirloin steak, and fried an egg. Then I put them on the bun with some mayonnaise and served with fries.
Other Popular Chilean Dishes
- Valdiviano – a soup traditionally made from beef or horse charqui (jerky) and onions. Modern versions often use ground beef instead of the charqui, or meat leftover from barbecues. Eggs are commonly poached in the soup before serving.
- Pantruca – a dumpling soup. The dumplings are usually shaped by rolling the dough until quite thin and cutting it into squares.
- Cuchuflis – cookies shaped into hollow tubes, filled with dulce de leche and covered in chocolate.
This was a great week; the food from Chile is delicious! I’m seeing a pattern in South American countries putting eggs on things so that definitely makes me partial to their meals. My favorite dishes were probably the charquican and churrasco a lo pobre.
Next week, I’ll be cooking food from China.