Stretching over 2,600 miles, Chile is a country that covers a range of landscapes and climates. From the Atacama Desert to the frozen Patagonian Ice Fields, Chile is a country of enormous geographical diversity. As a result, the country has a vast range of dishes to sample. In Chile food is diverse as the country’s landscape, taking in everything from delicious fish to tasty spices. Along the Pacific coast, travelers can try dishes like pastel de jaiba, a crab pie, or Reinata, an unusual white fish. Meanwhile, at Santiago’s famous Mercado Central, you can try succulent churrasco steak to name but one of the delights on offer. In this article, we run down a few more traditional Chilean favorites.
1. A twist on a South American classic: Empanadas
Empanadas are the signature snack of South America. In Chile, they have their own take on this classic dish, which is essentially a Spanish cornish pasty. Most people will have come across the Argentinian version, which is smaller in size. In contrast, Chilean empanadas are huge, more like their British cousins. Usually, Chileans fill their empanadas with pino – a mixture of minced meat, onion, raisins, black olives, and hard-boiled egg. Generally, they’ll deep fry this concoction or cook it al horno in a wood-burning oven. Every region in Chile has its own take on the empanada, so there’s plenty of varieties to sample as you travel around.
2. The complete Chilean cuisine experience: Completos
The completo – the Spanish word for ‘total’ or ‘complete’ – is a ubiquitous Chilean dish. The completo is basically a hot dog – and as in Chile food is big, the completo no exception. Available on most street corners, these huge hot dogs come with all the trimmings including tomatoes, onions, pickles, and mayo. Furthermore, there are several twists on the completo, including options with guacamole or sauerkraut.
3. Tasty pumpkin seed flatbreads: Sopapillas
Sopapillas are flatbreads, but not as you know them. Studded with pumpkin seeds, these tasty morsels are a versatile food that Chileans eat sweet and savory. To make a sopapilla, pumpkin seeds are mixed with flour, butter, and rolled out into fritters that are deep fried. These simple snacks are a street food favorite available up and down the country. However, the most popular way to eat them in savory with mustard, ketchup, or a Chilean hot pepper sauce called pebre.
4. Salsa, but not as you know it: Pebre
In Chile food has to have loads of flavor – which is why they love pebre. A Chilean take on salsa, pebre is made with onion, cilantro, garlic, oil, and hot green peppers. Traditionally, Chileans mix these ingredients with cooking water from potatoes that are going to accompany a barbeque. Furthermore, pebre is always served cuchareao, which means ‘spoonful’, or scooped with a spoon. Pebre is slightly different depending on the region, with some parts of Chile foregoing the tomato.
5. Totally Chilean: Porotos granados
Although in Chile food has much in common with the dishes served by neighboring countries, porotos granados are entirely Chilean. This hearty bean stew is made from corn, pumpkin, onion, garlic, basil, and various types of beans. Generally, there are two variations on the dish: mazamorra or pilco. If you’re serving porotos granados with mazamorra, then you add mashed corn to create a thicker consistency. In contrast, pilco is a more watery version with whole fresh corn that usually served to bigger groups.
Chile: Food, wine, and lots more to explore
When it comes to food and wine, Chile has loads to offer. The above is by no means an exhaustive list of all their is to try – so if you want to explore Chilean cuisine, the best thing to do is go. What’s more, Chile isn’t just an exciting destination for foodies. If you’re a dedicated oenophile, then a journey around Chilean wine country is difficult to beat. From delicious Cabernet Sauvignons in the Maipo Valley to crisp whites in the Colchagua Valley, there is plenty to sample. For more inspiration, check out our guide to Chilean wine country here. Meanwhile – why not start planning your adventure and take a look at one of our brochures.