Caldillo de congrio or conger broth is, in my opinion, one of the tastiest dishes in Chilean cuisine. So much so, that the poet Pablo Neruda, our Nobel Prize winner for Literature, dedicated a text to him called “Oda al caldillo de Congrio” that appeared in the work “Elementary Odes” of 1954. “In the sea/stormy/of Chile/lives the pink conger eel,/giant eel/ with snowy meat./ And in the Chilean/pots,/on the coast,/the broth/gravid and succulent,/ profitable was born.”
In the coastal town of El Quisco, Valparaíso Region, the bard tried the dish for the first time at the “Chez Camilo” restaurant and was so impressed with its flavor that the poem emerged.
If you are not Chilean, you might wonder what caldillo de congrio means and what is conger eel. It is important to point out that in Chile soups that are made with fish are called “caldillo”; “Pailas” are called if seafood is used (that is why we speak of marine paila) and “casserole” when the protein used is beef or poultry (that is, some land animal). Among the great variety of preparations based on shellfish andfish, such as renowned salmon and seabass.
On the other hand, the conger eel used in this dish is of the red type (Genypterus chilensis). It owes its common name to the reddish color of its belly, throat and lips. It is found in our seas, near the rocky bottom, where it feeds mainly on crustaceans. Other types of fish can be used, such as the old fish, the pejesapo, the pejeperro, to name some of the species of our long and wide Chilean coast.
Winter or summer doesn’t matter, it’s always a good time to enjoy a tasty, nutritious and healthy broth.
- Cooking pot
- 4 pieces conger without skin the ideal is to use red conger
- 4 medium potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 medium onion peeled and cut into feathers
- 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into finger-thin slices
- 2 tomatoes peeled and chopped, if you want you can remove the seeds
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pinch of dried oregano
- parsley I did not use
- salt and white pepper to taste
- chili optional
- Mild flavored oil
- Heat a little oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook stirring for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Add the tomato and cook stirring for a couple more minutes.
- Add the white wine and stir well. Lower the heat and add the broth or water, the potatoes, the bay leaf, the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the conger eel pieces and cook over low heat for 10 more minutes.
- We add the color chili, the parsley and enjoy!