Cooking School – Chilean Cuisine

By / Food / January 27th, 2011 / 1

Chilean cuisine is an amazing mix of cultural influences. After decades of immigration, people arriving from Spain, Germany, Italy, Croatia, France and the Middle East (to name but a few) brought delicious influences taken from their own traditional recipes. Chilean cuisine also reflects the deep ties to its native peoples who, over time, raised a wide range of vegetables and fruits in Chile’s diverse climate and geography. That native cuisine combined with the immigrants’ foodways to create a completely new and exciting cuisine.

Because of the variations in geography — mountain ranges, valleys and coastal regions — we can’t actually talk about one particular Chilean cuisine. Instead, it makes more sense to talk about the cuisines of the North, Central Coast and the South. Each area has its own native ingredients and special ways of interpreting those ingredients into unique and delicious dishes. Thanks to a complex climate and influences from around the world, Chile grows and exports a dizzying array of crops.

Major crops

– Azapa olives originated in northern Chile.
– Chirimoya is a fruit grown throughout the Andes mountains. Stay tuned for more information on this fruit in an upcoming Extreme Cuisine.
– Maize, known to us as corn, is grown throughout Chile and forms an integral part of the traditional cuisine.
– Lúcuma is used primarily in ice cream, lending its unique fruity flavour to any dish.
– Potato is by no means grown only in Europe. It has become an essential component in many traditional Chilean dishes.
– Quinoa is an ancient grain, meaning that it hasn’t undergone anywhere close to the same level of genetic modification as other grains, like corn or wheat. Quinoa remains very high in protein and other nutritious vitamins and minerals.

Seafood, of course, also forms an integral part of Chilean cuisine — Chilean sea bass, squid and cod among many others. Classic methods of preparation include batter and deep frying, baking and stewing. Here’s a great Chilean recipe for you to try.

Red Fruit Tart
Serves 8

1/3 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavoured gelatine
3/4 cup rosé wine
1/4 cup port
3 strips orange juice
4 large ripe plums, cut into 8 wedges
Pastry (recipe follows)
1 cup raspberries or cherries

1. In a large pan, mix sugar and gelatine. Add wine, port, peel and juice. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add plums; simmer until fruit begins to soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Transfer fruit to plate with a slotted spoon; discard peel. Chill fruit.
2. Chill poaching liquid in an uncovered pan in the refrigerator. Stir often until it begins to thicken slightly.
3. Quickly arrange plum slices in pastry; set raspberries decoratively on plums. When poaching liquid is slightly jelled, but still soft enough to pour smoothly, ladle over fruit. Chill tart until gelatine is set, at least 1 hour. Remove pan rim and set tart on a platter.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg

1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and butter. Combine until fine crumbs form. Add egg and combine. Pat dough into a ball. Press dough into tart pan with removable bottom.
2. Bake in a 350°F until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove pan rim and slip a long spatula under the pastry to release, but leave it in place. Add filling above.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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