foodie

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sancocho de Pescado (Colombian hearty fish soup)

Sancocho is a hearty soup very popular in all the Colombian territory. It varies according to the region, but basically is a soup made with the ingredients people have handy "parboil" in water for a long time. Traditionally it is made with chicken, boiling hens, oxtail, pork ribs, or fish and a variety of starchy garden roots, vegetables and fruits like: potatoes (different types), yuca, arracacha, taro, yam and plantains. It is cooked normally outdoors over wood or coal stoves so people can gather around while it cooks; it makes the perfect meal for a family Sunday luncheon.

As nowadays it is more difficult to prepare it outdoors, specially in the big cities, there are many specialized restaurants in the outskirts of the cities that make it the traditional way in big pots over log fires.

This recipe is for the fish version, that is popular in both the Pacific and Atlantic coast of the country and it's made adding  coconut milk to the water.



Ingredients 4 big servings

1 1/2 pound white fish fillet cut into 2 1/2 inches pieces
3 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inches dices
1 big green plantain peeled and cut into 2 inches pieces
2 medium yucas peeled and cut into 2 inches pieces
1 can coconut milk 400 ml
1 big onion minced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 fish bouillon or 1 tablespoon lobster paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric or color
1/2 cup minced cilantro
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups water

Mix 1 tablespoon minced cilantro with the garlic paste, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and rub the fish pieces. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, fish bouillon or lobster paste, fish sauce,parsley, salt and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Add  the water, coconut milk, potatoes and plantains. Reduce to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 -25 minutes until the potatoes and plantains are tender.



uncover and add the yuca let simmer for 10 minutes or until it is tender. At this point the potatoes, plantain and yuca must be very tender but not dissolved. Add the fish and cilantro, mix and cook covered for 5 -10 minutes, depending of the type of fish you are using, it may take less or more time to cook. Be careful not to overcook the fish, you want to have big chunks of it in your soup.

Serve with white or coconut rice, fried plantains,lime wedges and aji sauce.

Note: you can use a whole fish including the head. If it is the case, cut the fish into steaks. Add the fish head along with the potatoes and plantains this will give a lot of flavor and omit or reduce the fish sauce and fish bouillon if it is a strong tasting fish.