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Chilote Curanto

Mónica Pons César Severa

It has been the typical dish of fishermen’s families who have lived in the region since time immemorial which puts the available fresh ingredients to good use.

Chilote curanto - Quetalmahue, Ancud

Chiloé Island and its people are well known for their cuisine. Prepared in a hole, curanto is extremely popular with visitors due to the delicious combination of its ingredients and the fact that it is cooked before their very eyes. We found a place in Ancud where it is made the traditional island way.

We drove out to Quetalmahue to meet the people who would treat us to this long-standing dish. It is home to artisan fishermen and seaweed gatherers who also prepare different types of rich, tasty dishes. We decided to arrive well before lunchtime to witness the whole process, beginning by getting the pit ready and ending when the meal is served.

Chilote curanto - Quetalmahue, Ancud

We introduced ourselves to our hosts, who led us to the place where this much awaited dish was about to be cooked. Like during a ritual, we gathered round the hole and listened intently.

OriginallyMapuche , both in southern Chile and Argentina, the ingredients are cooked underground for several hours. A hole is dug and big hot stones are placed at the bottom. Assorted seafood (blue mussels, razor clams, sea urchins, picorocos, a local type of barnacle, crabs, oysters and other shellfish) is placed directly on the stones. Then the spiced meat is added (chicken, pork, beef and smoked meat). Next comes a layer of vegetables, potatoes, chapaleles and milcaos, pancakes and dumplings made of potato and wheat flour, covered by giant rhubarb leaves. The food is steamed due to the heat radiated by the stones.

We waited until it was time to uncover the food. The cooks removed the chunks of earth and then the giant rhubarb leaves. An enticing smell rose from the pit as the seafood, meat and vegetables were prepared to be served and our host invited us to take our places at the table.

Chilote curanto - Quetalmahue, Ancud

It was served with pebre, chopped onion, spicy red peppers, parsley, coriander, salt and water as is the Chilean style. The plates were handed out in the same ceremonious manner as the cooking, showing respect for this traditional dish of the Chilote people.

As is customary, we lingered at the table after lunch, and during our chat we learned about other gastronomic specialties as well as their stone and wooden crafts. We thanked these friendly, kindhearted folk for introducing us to this dish.

Before returning to Ancud we took some time to relax on the nearby beach. Our trip back mimicked the slow pace of the curanto in the hole, which we were happy to have tasted.

Chilote curanto - Quetalmahue, Ancud


Welcome Chile - Outings in Ancud
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Half-day, in order to match the uncovering of the curanto.



Useful Data

How to get there

From Ancud, go towards Lechagua (the Pacific Ocean) for 14 km. Turn left towards Pumillahue and Puñihuil beach. Just before Pumillahue there is a road to Mar Brava beach (21 km from Ancud).

Opening hours

Usually at lunchtime. Arrangements and booking in advance with the locals.

Bear in mind

It is advisable to fill the petrol tank in Ancud.


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