Sopaipillas, a Chilean Classic in Santiago.
If colombians got the “Arepa” and mexicans “Tortilla”, Chileans got the Sopaipilla. It is a very simple but a winner recipe: a small deep-fried flat bread with such quantity of sauces and toppings availailable to pour on, that make them really interesting: Mayo, Tártar Sauce, Kétchup, Golf Sauce, Mustard, Soy Sauce, Chilli Sauce and the very chilean “Pebre” (a mix of finely chopped tomato, onion, garlic, fresh coriander and chilli) and “Chancho en Piedra” (mortar-mashed Pebre, till getting a thick sauce) that turn Sopaipillas into a high addictive snack, as they get a different taste with each combination, making you want more and more.
Due to their neutral flavor you can have them either salty as in this case or a sweet version, dunking them in “Chancaca” (unrefined sugar-cane syrup), fantastic during the southern winter. Despite Sopaipillas are not an exclusivity from Chile, since you can also find them along the Southern Cone countries, Tex-Mex area and Andalucia, Spain, it is the way they have them and its popularity on streets what makes them a Chilean asset. The word Sopaipilla comes from the arabs, who used to call Sopaipa to some kind of fried dough.
Where? Sopaipillas El Jooomba
While we were travelling in Uyuni, Bolivia, we met a nice Chilean backpacker who suggested us some of the must-visit places when we arrived to her native Santiago, including O’Higgins Park, an emblematic destination for the locals to spend their Sundays and have a traditional snack on the surrounding streets.
Sopaipillas “El Jooomba”
O’Higgins Metro Station Exit
Manuel Antonio Matta / Manuel Rodríguez Ave.
Mon – Fri 7:30 – 11:00 and 17:00 – 21:30
$150 CLP ($0.25 USD)
And indeed, couple of months later we went there. We just had to leave the O’Higgins metro station and right in front of the exit we found “El Jooomba” cart, who sells probably one of the most popular street foods all along Chile. Sopaipillas are easy to find at almost every corner of crowded city areas… and you don’t have to ask if they’re good, you realize it when you see how popular they are.
“El Jooomba” cart is located right down the stairs of O’Higgins metro station. Right there we met Juan and Dannaes, a very young couple, very cool guys with their customers and a very good duo in their business. They know how to work together and get everything ready to serve the crowd of people during the peak hours, especially on Mondays. Juan is in charge of the cooking, while Dannaes serves customers.
They offer not only fresh fried Sopaipillas, with a long variety of sauces and toppings that cover the entire cart front, for a backpacker-budget price, but some other Chilean delicacies as well: Arrollados de Jamón y Queso (ham & cheese rolls), Empanadas de Queso (cheese pasty), Hot Dogs, Coffee, Tea and Milo.
Juan’s mother and grandmother supported and raised their family selling Sopaipillas for more than 13 years and he learned the job helping them in their cart after the school hours; and also working for Schopdog, a national fast food restaurant chain. By the end of 2012, Juan and Dannaes decided to become independent and create their own business, since they now have to take care of little Diego Alonso, their 3 year-old baby. Despite the hard work they do, they can cover all their expenses and save for a car and their own house in the future.
To make Sopaipillas at home you will need:
- 2 cups of self-raising flour
- 1 cup of mashed pumpkin or butternut squash
- 3 spoons of molten butter
- ½ cup of hot water or milk
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Plenty of vegetable oil
1. Mix the flour, butter and pumpkin in a bowl. Slowly add water (or milk) and salt to the mix and stir gently till you get a smooth, elastic and non-sticky dough with no lumps.
2. Roll out the dough to a 5mm thick. Cut circles of 10 cm wide. Pierce each circle with a fork before frying.
3. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. Make sure the oil is very hot. Fry sopaipillas for about 1 minute till they got a nice light gold colour. Remove sopaipillas from oil and place them on a paper towel.
4. Serve hot sopaipillas apart and ramekins with Mayo, Tártar Sauce, Ketchup, Golf Sauce, Mustard, Soy Sauce, Chilli Sauce, “Pebre”, “Chancho en Piedra”, Avocado, Cheese and Chancaca.
Read more about Sopaipillas at Wikipedia