Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some traditional Chilean dishes.

While visiting some of the wine regions of Chile I not only learned a bit about the wines… I had the chance to learn about Chilean cuisine too. Below are some recipes shared with me by chefs throughout the regions. These are some very typical (and delicious) dishes that can be made as-is or easily adapted to ingredient availability. I have recommended some Chilean wines I liked for each dish, but any similar wine will do. The first few are appetizers but can serve as main courses together.

Thanks to the guys at Catalejo for the recipes and translations!

Special thanks to the host and chef at Catalejo Restaurant for their help (Calle Santa Laura, Concón).

Machas a la Parmesana.

These clams are found on the sandy shores along the coast of Chile. We call them Pacific razor clams, or surf clams.

- 24 machas
- small amounts of each of the following:
        olive oil
        white wine
        grated parmesan
        black pepper

Open the razor clams (carefully!) with a paring knife. Cut off the black tip of the neck, or pinch it off by hand. It has a tough texture and strong scent, so it’s better to prepare this dish with them removed. Many prefer to prepare these clams by removing anything that is not white from the steak. Rinse each thoroughly to remove any sand.

Place each clam in half a shell and line them up on a baking sheet. Put a bit of butter, a few drops of olive oil and white wine, a little pepper and salt, and some grated parmesan on top of each. Put the sheet into a preheated oven. When the cheese is melted and the clams are slightly pink, they’re finished (just a couple of minutes). I would pair this with a Chardonnay from Leyda, such as Amayna’s.

Ostiones al Pil Pil (Pil Pil Scallops).

There is a heavy Basque influence in Chile (a clear example is the Errázuriz family’s impact on Chilean history). Pil pil is a traditionally Basque preparation but is now found all over Chile. Many fish and shellfish dishes are served “al pil pil,” and all are fantastic. This was my favorite.

- 24 scallops (cleaned, if they were in their shells)
- olive oil
- spicy red peppers of your choice (ají cacho de cabra or guindillas are typically used, but any will do the trick)
- 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
- white wine
- parsley (Chileans mostly use dried parsley, but fresh can be used as well)
- salt

Heat olive oil in a medium pot uncovered over medium heat. Add the minced garlic. Sauté for a few seconds and add the red peppers (sliced and deseeded), parsley, and wine. Simmer for two minutes. Add the scallops and stir, cooking only for a couple of minutes so they don’t get rubbery! Serve this very hot immediately from the pot. Pairs nicely with a Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley such as MontGras’ Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

Empanadas de Pino.

Though empanadas originated in Argentina, they have now become Chilean cuisine as well.

    - 3½ cups flour
    - 1 egg
    - 2 tbsp butter
    - 1½ tbsp milk
    - 1½ tbsp white wine
    - ½ cup cold water

Beat the water, wine, milk, butter, and egg together in a bowl. Slowly beat in flour. When the dough is stiff, place it on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour while preparing the other ingredients.

Carne (meat):
    - 1½ cups minced onion
    - 1½ cloves garlic, minced
    - ½ lb ground beef
    - 3 tsp ground cumin

Mariscos (seafood):
    - 1½ cups minced onion
    - 1½ cloves garlic, minced
    - ½ lb seafood of your choice (shellfish work best), chopped

Sauté all ingredients for the pino together in a little oil. When the pino is cooked sufficiently, Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Roll out 4-inch diameter circles, place a spoonful of pino on half, and fold over. Crease edges with a fork or press together with you fingers. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Carne empanadas go well with a peppery Pinot, marisco empanadas are great with a slightly buttery Chardonnay. Aquitania had both of these.


This dish can be made with any fresh fish or shellfish. White fish and salmon work best. Originally a Peruvian dish, this is now a staple in Chilean cuisine.

- 2 lb fish or shellfish
- 2 spicy peppers, chopped; I liked it with 1 green or yellow and 1 red
- 2 red onions, finely chopped and rinsed in cold water for a while to remove the pungency
- juice of lemons and limes (enough to cover the seafood in a bowl)
- cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste

Cut seafood into small cubes or slices (the smaller you cut them, the faster this dish will be ready, so cut them into pieces proportional to the time you have!). Add salt to the lemon/lime juice until it is salty to the taste, but not overly so. Place the seafood in a bowl and cover with juice. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour, or until the seafood looks “cooked.”

Mix all other ingredients together. When the seafood is ready, mix all ingredients together and serve. Pair this one with a sparkling wine from Bío-Bío like Cono Sur Brut.


This is a cilantro-based sort of pico de gallo, served with fresh bread. It is also good as a topping for just about any dish.

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 4 small or 2 medium spicy peppers (to keep it traditional, use ají cacho de cabra, but you can use habaneros or jalapeños too)
- ½ cup diced fresh tomato
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup red onion, minced
- ½ cup cilantro, minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
- salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let stand for at least an hour.


This is a Chilean stew of sorts. It actually came initially from Peru but has been adapted to Chilean taste.

- 1 lb tenderloin or sirloin, cut into small cubes or ground
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ½ lb squash (zapallo is used typically... see an image here), cubed
- 1½ cups beef stock
- 1 tbsp spicy pepper (ají cacho de cabra, the spicy Chilean pepper, is typically used)
- 1½ tbsp oregano
- ¾ tsp cumin
- 2 cups corn
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 fried egg per serving (this recipe is meant to serve 4)

Sauté the beef for 2-3 minutes in hot oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, squash, peppers, and spices. Pour in beef stock and let simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Add the corn and simmer for 5 minutes more. Test the squash and potatoes throughout to ensure they are cooked but not overcooked. Plate each serving and top with a fried egg. This is typically served with a Chilean salad consisting of onions, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and olive oil. Pair this with a bold red such as von Siebenthal’s Montelíg, Cousiño Macul’s Antiguas Reservas Merlot, or Lapostolle’s Clos Apalta.

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