If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll see I’ve journeyed south of Santiago to an island called Chiloe. I’ve relaxed the plant based diet and have been enjoying lots of fresh fish and seafood (and chips). I’ve also tried Chile’s national dish, curanto, which is an ancient dish local to Chiloe.
I tried curanto at El Invunche de Guanaca, a place recommended to me by locals. It’s a short drive from Ancud, in the northern part of Chiloe.
The main ingredients in curanto are shellfish, meat, potatoes, milcao (a potato pancake), chapaleles (a potato dumpling), and vegetables.
If you’re looking how to make curanto, don’t try this at home. It’s not a quick meal!
How to make curanto
The word curanto means ‘stony ground’. We saw authentic curanto being made – first a team dug a hole about a metre and a half deep, adding red hot stones.
Then the cooks took over, filling the hole with the main ingredients of seafood, meat and vegetables.
Finally they covered the food with leaves, typically rhubarb or cabbage leaves.
Curanto takes an hour to cook, and we used this time for a little explore of the shoreline.
After one hour, the layers of leaves were peeled back, and locals cheered and applauded as the meal was served up.
We all got to have a go at the easy bit – dishing up the goodies. Rafa dropped his meat, so the restaurant dog got lucky that day.
I don’t eat meat, and I’ll be honest , curanto wasn’t for me. I rather liked the potato dumplings however, and my kids devoured the smoky sausages.
I preferred a different Chiloe speciality – paila marina. Paila marina is a light, seafood broth served in a paila (earthenware bowl). It’s peasant food at its very best.
We all ate too much stodge, so after a little play we headed out to explore Chiloe’s beaches and seaside towns. After all, we had to make room for another Chile tradition, onces (afternoon tea)!
Restaurante el Invuche de Guanaca , +56 9 9427 7798. Located on the W-20 road, about 20 minutes drive west of Ancud (see north of the map).