Sunday, May 24, 2009

Let's All Try some Cochayuyo!!!!

Yes, it's ugly. Yes, it's almost obscene to look at or carry home to your kitchen. But...I decided after a year and a half in Chile to try this hideous looking spectacle of a sea vegetable called cochayuyo. Here is a picture:



Keeping it real, I asked at the market for an explanation of what it was, and how it was prepared. The clerk spoke, as usual, a dialect of Spanish which I am not familiar with and I was instantly lost and almost abandoned my quest for a culinary adventure. Then I remembered my own advice: When shopping in a foreign country for food stuffs, always look for the tiniest, oldest woman, who has taken 15 minutes just to choose a tomato, and ask her. A lovely elderly woman, about 4 foot 7 inches had been working the lettuce table for almost that much time, so I grabbed the extraterrestrial food item and went to ask her about it. She said this...

You soak it overnight in a pan of water with salt. The next day you rinse it well, and cut it into pieces and serve it with oil and lemon and cilantro. I got the general idea, then came home and went to my trusty Chile forum for more takes on preparing this prehistoric beast. Generally the responses were the same, except that it turns out you should cut it into at least three inch pieces first, then soak.....

I tried it today, and it was, well....let's just say the lime, olive oil and chopped parsley I used to toss it with were the only thing I enjoyed about it. It tasted like cold, boiled pork rinds. To be fare, I love pork rinds, but crisply fried, and salted sufficiently. Not giving up, I tried a few more pieces and decided YES, it does taste slightly smoky and like pork rinds. The next logical step was to make a pot of my favorite bean soup using some lovely porotos (frijoles-beans) I bought at the market. I cheated a little by adding some liquid smoke flavor and then dumped in the Cochayuyo. I have to tell you that it is absolutely excellent! You'd think I cooked the beans with some nice, fatty ham hocks, or pork rinds. It's wonderful!

Tomorrow, I will drain and mash the leftovers and add a little garlic for a bean dip and see how that sits.

note: the Cochayuyo is a seaweed, long and tubular, brown, and frankly hideous looking. It is harvested off the coast of Chile and apparently eaten as a salad, as my online chefs shared with me. When dry and newly purchased, it has a slight mushroom odor. As it is soaked and cooked, it loses the brown coloring and the cellulose cells inside swell and fill with liquid. Might be better to use some flavoring in that process...lime, lemon, vinegar...to give it a little more distinct taste.

8 comments:

Margaret said...

I actually LIKE cochayuyo! And I'm surprised your little old lady gave you an essentially raw recipe (which is how I like it- I call it ceviche de cochayuyo)...
My first try came from a recipe that had me pressure cook it for 45 minutes... DO NOT make that mistake! It gets very slimy very quickly! Gross!
At our house we soak it, chop it, and mix it with eggs, onions, parsley, and bread crumbs and make it into patties to fry lightly... yummy. I like them cold with fresh lemon, but others prefer them hot.
Larger pieces can be stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried-also very yummy (although certainly NOT on your new diet plan!)
I've gotta admit though that your idea of adding it to beans as a pork substitute sounds great and will make my vegetarian husband very happy!

Vicki Lansen said...

Thanks Margaret! I will have to re-try the chilled ceviche cochayuyo recipe, and add a little more lime...maybe some smoked red pepper flakes and chopped green onions. I'll "think ceviche" next time.

Ever had the sea urchins? Erizo, or something like that?

ResidentExpat said...

I think I rather just have the lime dressing....

let me know how margaret's recipe turns out...

I've eaten enough weird things that I do enjoy that I don't need to try any more new things if they don't taste that good ;-)

Margaret said...

Erizos (sea urchins) are among those things that I keep trying but just can't quite find much reason to enjoy... an acquired taste (like Scotch) I guess! That's one heck of a lot of yodo (iodine)... pretty strong stuff! Although lots of Chileans go wild over them. Be sure to have some nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc on hand to go with them! (That also works very nicely with cochayuyo ceviche too!)
Oh, and with the ceviche- be sure to rinse the chopped cochayuyo very well with cold water to remove any sliminess before you add the seasonings--and use anything that you would normally use in ceviche (like hot peppers and green onions, etc.)!

Nati said...

HEY!! Have you tried it dry? crunchy and salty?? it's really nice!
I can't eat cochayuyo as salad bcause I think it's disgusting, however, I prefer to cut it into pieces and bring some to my college in a ziploc bag as snack!! (Just as you buy it: dry and tight)
You can also fry it or fill it with melted chesse..awsome!

Kyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyo said...

You are wrong, they speak in a different *accent*.
There are no different dialects of Spanish in Chile.

Kevin Izquierdo said...

where can i buy this?i live in U.S. NJ.