Caldillo de Congrío
(Chilean seafood stew)
Chile's long Pacific coast makes it a veritable paradise for fans of seafood. Chileans use their ocean bounty in countless ways. One Chilean favorite is caldillo de congrío, a simple fisherman's stew made with red conger eel, known as congrío colorado. Congrio can be difficult to find outside Chile, but you can substitute any good white-fleshed fish to similarly delectable results.
- Olive oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Onion, thinly sliced -- 1
- Garlic, minced -- 3 to 4 cloves
- Paprika -- 1 tablespoon
- Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 2 cups
- White wine -- 1 cup
- Rich fish stock -- 4 cups
- Parsley, finely chopped -- 2 tablespoons
- Bay leaf -- 1
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- White fish or conger eel filets, cut into chunks -- 1 pound
- Heavy cream -- 1/2 cup
- Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and paprika and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes to cook the tomatoes down a bit. Add the wine and cook down for another minute or so.
- Pour in the fish stock and add the parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the fish or eel and simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls, garnished with the some of the chopped cilantro and a few dashes of salsa de ají or other hot pepper sauce.
Caldillo de Congrío Variations
- Broth (Caldillo): If you are lucky enough to have access to conger eel or other fish trimmings, use them to make your own broth for caldillo de congrio. Otherwise, make a simple seafood stock out of shrimp shells, or use clam stock or even chicken stock.
- Fish and Seafood: Congrío can be difficult to find outside of Chile. Good substitutes include halibut, monkfish, snapper and cod. For added flavor, marinate the fish with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt for about 30 minutes before adding it to the pot. Other seafood can be added to the pot along with the fish or eel. Try shrimp, mussels or clams.
- Vegetables: Many Chilean cooks add other vegetables to the simmering stew to make it a full, hearty meal. Add two carrots, cut into thin rounds and two potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks, when you add the fish stock. Simmer the stock until the vegetables are just cooked through before adding the fish.