Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Piure: the world's strangest seafood?

I've spent the last 10 days in Chile - hence the lack of recent posts. Most of my time was spent visiting wineries but I also found time to visit the Central Market in Santiago which I remembered from my last visit sports some of the weirdest seafood I've ever come across.

This coral-like substance is called Piure. I've been looking for more information about it but it basically tastes something like a sea-urchin though much less delicate in flavour. They extract the flesh then serve it with onions and a good squeeze of lemon, both necessary to disguise the slightly bitter, soapy taste. A good Pisco Sour - Chile's national cocktail - also helps it go down!

There are other unfamiliar fish: pink clams called machas which the contestants in the World's Best Sommelier contest had to match with red wine (almost impossible) . . .

Congrio or conger eel which is a popular basis for the very tasty Chilean seafood stews . . .

Some very spooky octopus . . .

And abalone, a much prized Chilean speciality, shown here boiled with mayonnaise

Oh, and a tip if you go to the market. It's a bit of a tourist trap so don't bother eating in the restaurants. There are much better ones elsewhere in Santiago.


  1. I look forward to seeing your reviews on the Chilean wines, have known some very nice ones in the past.

    Hopefully no screwtops though. :)

  2. Just the odd one or two, Luigi. Will be posting wine reviews on

  3. Fiona, just noticed your blog when having a look for info on piure. I am an arcaheologist and have just excavated piure from a site in northern Chile that may be 2-3,000 years old. Things never change. They were also big fans of urchin.

  4. great job. it is almost impossible to explain what is piure))))
    also we met locos, pocoroco or smth like that

  5. interesting, but I'd disagree with the comment about the restaurants at the Central Mercado...
    I had some of my best congrio there in the central restaurant.

  6. Pisco Sour comes from Peru and its Peru's national cocktail, not Chile.

    1. Peruvian stills always saying the same...
      Pisco is a peruvian village
      The pisco drink was born in that peruvian place.

      The chilean pisco drink has a designation of origin in the 4th chilean region (valle del elqui specificly), it's almost just another type of brandy, but, only in valle del elqui are the better grape strains to obtain the world's best pisco. (if the same recie is done in santiago, can't be named pisco, it's named brandy, or aguardiente).
      The pisco sour was a chilean invention, added lemon and sugar to pisco, and you have pisco sour.