Shaped by the crashing waves and untamed landscape, the Isla Grande de Chiloé is the fifth largest island in Chile, developing an identity distinctly different than the mainland. With a local community that celebrates the arts, mythology, and architecture, food is a huge part of their culture. A cuisine that doesn’t rely on buzzwords like “organic”, food in the Chiloé Islands embraces the history and heartiness offered by local purveyors. Come with us as we explore the cuisine of this unique region.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Trout and Salmon
Trout and salmon are staples of Chiloé cuisine, no matter how you cook them. Smoked, grilled, or fried, seafood in Chiloé is some of the world’s best. The country as a whole is known for their spectacular fishing, and one place to try your angling on the Islands is Puerto Nativo, where you can fly fish to your heart’s content.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Empanadas de Manzana
Chileans are no strangers to empanadas, but empanadas de manzana are slightly different than what you would find in other regions of the country. Instead of a typical meat filling, these are stuffed with apples, similar to a turnover in the U.S. Relatively sweet and gooey in nature, they’re perfect to pair with milk or a sparkling wine like Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the tartness.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Curanto/Pulmay
More a preparation than a dish, curanto is the regional cooking technique of the Chiloé Islands and a source of pride for Chileans living in the south that centers around an underground oven. If you’ve traveled to Peru, New Zealand or Hawaii, you may have seen similar techniques called pachamanca, hangi, or kalua, respectively. Curanto cooking is largely seafood-based, given the abundance of shellfish in the region. Clams, mussels, potatoes, and barnacles make up a bulk of the ingredients, which are placed in a dish over a fire pit. Covered in wet sacks and leaves, the bowl is buried for a little over an hour, creating an aromatic stew.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Chilota cazuela
Similar to a traditional soup, the Chiloé version of cazuela differs in its broth. Instead of chicken or lamb stock, Chiloeans use dried mussel as a base, which is often mistaken for Caldo de Mariscos. Seafood, potato, carrots, cabbage, and whatever else the cook conjures up are left to simmer, soak and boil. Drink the broth then consume the vegetables and finally the meat, if there is any.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Milcao
Milcao is baked potato pancake that tastes similar to hash browns. Some will have chicharrones added to give them a little extra crunch, but you can also find sweeter variations. Cooked on the upper layer of a Curanto, it’s a labor-intensive process, which makes it worth seeking out. The key is that half the potatoes are cooked and mashed, while the other half are grated. Fried versions can be found throughout the country, but there’s nothing like the original.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Licor de Oro “Gold Liquor”
No list of Chilean cuisine would complete without at least one alcoholic beverage. Licor de oro is particularly special because of its key ingredient, aguardiente, or fire water. Made from grape skin and pulp during the winemaking process, aguardiente took hold because of its high alcohol content. Similar to vodka and palinka in Central and Eastern Europe, licor de oro will give you the warm fuzzies quickly, flavored with lemon peel and saffron for flair.
Cuisine of Chiloé | Chapalele
Chapalele is a boiled potato dumpling. The larger, fried version of Italian gnocchi, they begin as cooked mashed potatoes. Lard, flour, and chicharrones mixed with the potatoes until they form a dough-like consistency. The paste is rolled into balls and pressed into discs. Grab them fresh from the fryer and pair with a cool glass of wine.
Pastel de choclo
The national dish of Chile, this delicious corn-based meat pie is both savory and hearty. Filled with pico, the same mixture of ground beef, raisin, onion, hard-boiled egg, and olives as Chilean empanadas, it’s a staple that’s not to be missed.
How to Get There
LATAN was the first carrier to offer flights to the South Chilean island. There are four weekly flights to Chiloé departing from Santiago, Chile with a quick stop over in Puerto Montt.