Sopaipillas Pasadas (Receta Secreta de la Abuela de José)

“A quién no le gusta las sopaipillas ricas y calentitas en un lluvioso día de invierno?”
– Dicen todos los chilenos, siempre

Concepción is famous for its rainy winters. Fungus grows in unused rooms, clothes are never really dry, and streets regularly flood. People actually earn money here by standing with a plank of wood near a flooded intersection and charging pedestrians for placing the plank over the water so they can cross without getting their feet wet! But I digress…


I realised I hadn’t  blogged about anything sweet yet. So I thought I’d share with you a great Chilean sweet treat, especially for those soggy, cold winter afternoons.

Sopaipillas are a cross between bread and a donut. They are made from few and basic ingredients, mainly flour and pumpkin puree, and deep fried. Sopaipillas pasadas are served in salsa de chancaca; a warm, sweet syrup, flavoured with cinnamon, clove and orange rind.


This dish is something to prepare on the weekend, as making the dough takes some time. But don’t confuse time consuming with difficult! They’re easy, and definitely worth all the effort. Oh, and make lots, because they are great for breakfast the next day, when the sopaipillas have soaked up all the flavour of the syrup.



For the Sopaipillas

  • 500g plain flour
  • 150g pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons of lard, melted (you could also use butter or vegetable shortening)
  • A pinch of baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

And José’s Abuela’s secret ingredient:

  • 1 medium banana, mashed

For the Salsa de Chancaca

  • 200g chancaca (you can substitute with brown sugar)
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • The rind of half an orange (shave the rind off in large pieces, not grated)
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in some cold water



For the sopaipillas, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together and add them to the dry ingredients. Work the mixture into a dough. Use your hands and knead it together on a flat surface. It will look like it will never come together, but keep at it. Be patient. Your efforts will be rewarded with sweet sopaipilla goodness.

For the salsa, place everything except the cornstarch into a pot and bring to the boil. Once the chancaca is completely dissolved, pour in the cornstarch and stir until the syrup becomes thick and, well, syrupy (is that a word?).

With a rolling pin (or an empty bottle which is what I used because I don’t own a rolling pin 😦 ) roll out the dough until it is about half a centimetre thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out circles of dough and prick right though twice with a fork. Press the left over pastry together, roll it out and repeat until all the dough is used up.

Heat the oil in the pan. You need enough to deep fry the sopaipillas. Make sure it is really hot before you put in the first batch. Fry both sides until golden brown and place on a paper towel to drain the oil.

Once all the sopaipillas are fried, add them to the syrup and heat until warmed through and some of the syrup has been absorbed. Serve hot!


jurel roast veggies

Cancato con Vegetales Asados

So this isn’t strictly a Chilean classic. However, it does include some classic ingredients.

Firstly, fish. You can pick up some amazing fresh fish and seafood at the local street market. Anything from whole Pacific sierra to clams to sea urchins. The 1m long sierra seemed a bit excessive for 2 people for lunch and we have limited space in the freezer, so we settled on a couple of jurel. I did a bit of research after and found out that jurel is also known as the extremely overfished Chilean jack mackerel. I’m going to have to suss out some more sustainable options for next time because this dish is delicious.

Admittedly, the probable cause of said deliciousness is offsetting the healthiness of the fish with longaniza (Chilean chorizo) and cheese. If you were looking for a light supper recipe, you have come to the wrong place, my friend. This dish is, unapologetically, a winter comfort food king!

jurel fish cancato

How to make baked fish, usually one of the healthy options, decadent

So as I mentioned before, this dish contains classic Chilean ingredients. We picked up the veggies from the local street market, the longaniza came from Chillán, the city of longaniza, the fish is obviously local because Chile is basically one long beach, and the cheese came from Valdivia, a city in the south.

As this is a baked fish recipe, I decided to make a side of roast veggies, partly to not waste a hot oven, but mainly because I am crazy about roast veggies and the pumpkin here is amazing and South America is the land of potatoes, so my not?!

jurel roast veggies

One method of ensuring you consume a variety nutrients is to ‘eat a rainbow’. Check out this rainbow plate!


For the fish:

  • Whole fish with scales, head and insides removed. Jurel is a very meaty fish, kinda like tuna, so go for something like this so that I doesn’t fall apart in the oven.
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Oregano
  • Cheese, sliced, enough to cover the length of the fish
  • Chorizo, sliced, enough to sparsely cover the fish

For the veggies:

You can use what ever veggies you want for this, but I used these because I had them in the fridge:

  • Pumpkin, potato, carrot, cauliflower, capsium chopped into bite sized chunks, enough to cover a baking tray
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • White wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper


Marinate the fish in lemon juice, salt and garlic for about an hour. Drain the fish well of the marinade.

Mix the chopped veggies with olive oil, rosemary and seasoning, spread evenly on a baking tray and put into an oven preheated to high. These need to bake for 45 minutes to an hour 1, so put them in before the fish.

Meanwhile, fry the chorizo until just cooked. Don’t add any extra oil because it already has plenty of fat and will cook in its own juices.

Open the fish up in a glass baking dish so the side with skin is facing down. Cover one side with slices of cheese, tomato, chorizo, onion and sprinkle, generously with oregano. Fold the other side over the top so you have what looks kinds like a sandwich, but with fish fillets instead of bread.

Bake the fish in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. About 10 minutes before it’s done, pour some white wine into the baking dish.

What noise does that animal make?

I’m 23 years old and, until a few days ago, I was pretty sure I had animal noises down pat. Any 3 year old can tell you what sound a dog makes, or a cow, a horse, a sheep – any farm animal for that matter. Old Macdonald’s farm right?


E – I – E – I – O

Well my perception of reality has now been changed forever. One of the first things I learned as a child has been but a partial truth. Apparently animal speak is not universal. Sheep of Spanish-speaking countries do not say the same thing as sheep of English-speaking countries.

The following is a list of English to Spanish animal sound translations for your information (and your entertainment)


Baa = Bee


Moo = Muu


Woof = Guau


Meow = Miau

Chick (baby chicken)

Cheep = Pio


Ribbit = Croac


Gobble = Glu


Cockadoodledoo (Which is seriously ridiculous! Who even thought of that?!) = Quiquiriquí

Obviously these look silly when written down, especially if you aren’t familiar with Spanish pronunciation, but when spoken, these sounds do sound like they belong to the animal (well, except for the rooster).

Beans and Pasta

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 6 Porotos con Riendas

So after my unfortunate encounter with meat the other day, I’m gladly sharing with you another chapter from the Vegetarian in Chile series. This week we’ve been having a taste of Concepción’s infamous rainy winters. And I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns cold and miserable, I turn to hot and hearty comfort food.

Beans and Pasta

There is absolutely no way you can go wrong with this combination. Just don’t forget to cook it

Porotos con Riendas is the ultimate meal for winter comfort. It will knock you out for the count. Do not expect to eat this and then be able to do much after. It is advisable not to eat Porotos con Riendas if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery. Think thick vegetable soup packed full of hearty beans and…wait for it…spaghetti! So if you’re struggling to pick between pasta and soup to warm the belly (this is actually a major challenge for me – first world problems), then look no further.

Porotos con Riendas cooked

You don’t want too much pasta. It’s called Porotos con Riendas, not Reindas con Porotos.

Any sort of white bean should do for this recipe, like navy bean or cannelloni. They have different types here in Chile, we picked some dried beans up from the market the other day. They had about 5 or 6 different kinds of white bean alone!


  • 3 cups dried white beans, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • Some spaghetti, about a quarter of a packet. I used spinach flavoured spaghetti because that’s all we had in the house, but good old white pasta will do.
  • Half an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 1 cup pumpkin, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Handful of red capsicum just for the colour, roughly chopped
  • Tablespoon oregano
  • Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • About a tablespoon of olive oil, butter, manteca (lard) – what ever flavour you prefer (I used butter and olive oil!) – for frying
  • Salt and pepper


Sautee the onion and the garlic in the olive oil/ butter/ manteca in a large pot over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the spices, pumpkin and capsicum and continue to fry for a few more minutes to release all those flavours. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, stirring through. Add the stock cube and enough boiling water to cover the beans by about 2 cm. Cook over low heat with the lid on until the beans and pumpkin are soft, then add the spaghetti. Continue to cook until the pasta is al dente and serve hot.

Food Poisoning: Living in Chile part 3

Well I suppose it was going to happen eventually. I’m definitely not the most sanitary person when it comes to food. I scrape mould off food instead of chucking it out and I also eat food I find in bins. So I was surprised when the food poisoning culprit came fresh from an actual shop!

The butcher down the road sells Prietas (Chilean blood sausage) locally sourced from a small-scale producer. Because it’s traditional Chilean food, I decided to give it a try. Now, blood sausage is not for the weak of stomach. As the name suggests, it has blood in it… So logically we decided to eat it with something else equally rough on the digestive tract – Puré Picante (spicy mash potato). A recipe for disaster (see what I did there?).

When I was in high school, one of my mates told me he liked to vomit apple juice, because it tastes the same on the way up as it does on the way down. The same principle does not apply to blood sausage and spicy mash. My throat and face hurt so much I thought my nose was going to fall off. Luckily, I only vomited continuously for 7 hours, so I didn’t have to go to hospital due to dehydration….

Now there’s stacks of info on the web about what to eat and drink when you are recovering from food poisoning. Obviously don’t hop back on the spicy food bandwagon straight away, avoid foods that are complex to digest like fibrous vegetables, and avoid acidic beverages such as coffee. Any of you who know me know I love all of those things so I’m sure you can imagine that I got pretty bored with soggy white rice and chamomile tea rather quickly.

Probably too quickly. 3 days later, having barely eaten anything since I’d been sick, I thought it’d be a great idea to devour a humongous bowl of Chilean-style chickpeas for lunch, which completely knocked me out (literally though, I passed out and slept for 3 hours. Longest ever siesta?) and I couldn’t eat again until the following day.

Of course I didn’t learn my lesson and proceeded to eat a sandwich containing mayo and avocado, not the lightest ingredients out there. Needless to say I felt like I had a giant rock in my stomach and once again I was out for the count. My boss called me a masochist. He’s probably right.

So just over a week later I’m back on the coffee, but still steering clear of the merquén (sad face). I guess things could have been a lot worse. The same guy who told me about the apple juice was once hospitalised with food poisoning which he contracted when he and his mate had a competition to see who could eat the most Chicken McNuggets. He should have sued, I reckon.

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 5 Guizo de Acelga

As promised, albeit a couple of days late, the next recipe in the series, A Vegetarian in Chile. We all know that winter is coming, and Guizo de Acelga, a.k.a Silverbeet Stew, is the perfect go to food for warding off the cold. It’s also quick and dead easy to make, using inexpensive ingredients that you can come by most of the year.

This one is basically a variation on Guizo de Zapallo Italiano, but there are a few differences which make this dish extra delicious (I’ll give you a hint: It’s cream).

I’ve chosen to serve the guizo with Papas Doradas (the greatest fried potatoes you’ll ever eat), but Chilean-style Rice is also a great accompaniment. Go ahead and click on the above link to Guizo de Zapallo Italiano for details on how to make either of these sides.

ingredientsThere quite a few variations on how to make a guizo out of this leafy green vegetable. I’m sure my Chilean friends have their own delicious and unique versions, and I’d LOVE to hear your tips, guys 🙂

Traditionally Guizo de Acelga is made with mince meat, but these days it’s not uncommon to find it without, so here is the meat-free version for your vegetarian enjoyment.

guizo de acelga con papas duradas


  • 1 small brown onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • A bunch of silverbeet, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons of cream
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in a bit of hot water – just a few tablespoons so the quizo doesn’t get to liquidy.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


If serving with one (or both) of the sides mentioned above, start first as these take longer to cook than the guizo.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sautee the onion and garlic on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the carrot, silverbeet and stock and cook on low heat with the lid on until the silverbeet has completely wilted. You may need to stir periodically and add small amounts of water if sticking to the bottom. Add the cream and eggs and stir through until heated. Season to taste and serve with your chosen accompaniment.

chickpeas merquén

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 4 Chilean-style Chickpeas

It’s been a while since my last post. To make up for it, I’m planing to share 2 recipes with you guys this weekend as part of my “Vegetarian in Chile” series.

The first one is Chilean-style chickpeas. This actually has a sister dish, Chilean-style lentils, which is essentially the same thing, just swap out one legume for the other. Usually, the lentil version is served with a fried egg on top, and the chickpea version comes with longaniza, a type of chorizo from the south of Chile. For the purpose of this series, I’ll keep it vegan and leave out the longaniza.

ingredients raw

This dish is basically a staple in my house. It’s quick, easy, you can make tonnes at a time to store the leftovers, and you only need one pot, which in theory, should minimize the amount of washing up (this doesn’t work in practice in my house. For some reason washing up increases exponentially from when I cook for one person to when I cook for two. To me, this seems to defy the laws of physics; shouldn’t the overall increase in dishes only amount to an extra bowl and a spoon? Does this phenomenon affect anyone else? Or is it just me? Explanation would be greatly appreciated).

flavour chilean chickpeas

I buy all my legumes dry and in bulk at the local feria from a lovely caballero (in Chile, this is the term for a gentleman or an alternative to señor). He sells the beans of the season, which are so soft, you barely have to soak them before hand, and when you cook them they are as smooth and creamy as mash potato. I usually soak a HUGE amount of chickpeas the night before I make this dish. If you don’t like to plan that far in advance, go ahead and use the tinned kind, works just as well.

This is a simple dish, traditionally just made with carrot and pumpkin. However you can get creative and add a little silverbeet for a bit of green or anything else you think will go well.

So without further ado, here you have the base recipe to play with:


  • Half a kilo of dried chickpeas, rinsed, soaked over night and drained. Remember you can use lentils as well
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or chopped*
  • 100g each of carrot and pumpkin chopped into small pieces
  • 3 or so small handfuls of rice, I used medium grain white, but you can use brown too
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Olive oil

chickpeas on stove


Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sautee the garlic and onion over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the carrot, pumpkin, chickpeas, rice, stock and spices and stir through. Add enough boiling water to cover the mixture by about a 1cm. Cook on low heat with the lid on until the rice is cooked and the chickpeas are soft. If all the water has been absorbed before the rice and chickpeas are done, you can add a little more, just keep in mind not to let it get soupy.

chickpeas merquén

Served with as sprinkle of merquén on top for an extra kick

*I read a really interesting article called “the best way to mince garlic” on how the method of preparation affects the flavour of garlic. I like to crush the clove with the back of my knife a bit and then finely chop it. This results in a much subtler, smoother garlic flavour compared with crushing the clove using a garlic press.