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Pulmay Chilote Recipe

Diego Salas

For the people of Chiloe, “curanto en hoyo” is a great celebration. The entire community contributes in the process, ,withingredients, music or folkloric dance.

This meal is much more than just food to the Chilote people; it is an important part of their culture. The curanto unites the community, has been passed down from generation to generation and epitomizes the smells and flavors of the island.

The Mapuche were the first to make curanto, a dish prepared upon hot rocks in the bottom of an approximately one-meter-deep hole. The ingredients are placed inside in layers and the hole is then covered with giant nalca leaves. The preparation and cooking time of this dish takes hours, providing the perfect excuse for an exciting Chilote social event.

And it really is a beautiful thing. However, if you would prefer to skip the ceremonious aspect and simply enjoy curanto’s delicious flavors, you should follow this Pulmay recipe, a condensed version of an age-old tradition that brings all of these flavors together in a pot in your kitchen.

The context will be different, but the ingredients and result are the same: a generous, filling dish with an extremely flavorful broth.

This is the Pulmay recipe:

Ingredients (per person)

  • 500 gr of cleaned shellfish (mussels and clams)
  • 1 medium-sized potato
  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 1 set of smoked pork ribs
  • 1/3 pork sausage
  • Onion, garlic, green or red bell pepper
  • Oregano, merken (or another smoky spice), cumin

For the broth: 1 cup of water and ½ bottle of white wine


The key is to have a large pot and add the ingredients in layers. The bottom layer consists of the onion, garlic and green or red pepper. For the second layer you should add about two-thirds of the shellfish (along with a little more onion, garlic and green or red pepper). Next come the smoked ribs and chicken to absorb the flavors. Also include the sausage and the remaining shellfish in this layer. The top layer always consists of potatoes because they, once cooked, indicate that the Pulmay is ready. Finally, add the condiments, the half bottle of white wine and a little water.

Cover the pot well. If necessary, seal its edges with some aluminum foil so the steam cannot escape as it provides the flavor. Cook for 40 to 60 minutes over medium heat; then poke the potatoes with a fork to see if they are ready.
We recommend the use of a large clay dish or deep plate to serve the Pulmay. You should also have another plate available to collect the shells and bones. If you love Chilean wine, we recommend you accompany this dish with an intense white like chardonnay or a light red such as Carmenere.
Let us know how this cooking adventure goes for you! @tierrahotels