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…

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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.

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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.

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Ingredients

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

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Method

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!

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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!

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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!

Ingredients

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

Method

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.