One of the first meals I brought home from Panama and shared with friends is a colorful, flavorful stew of fresh, locally caught seafood known as “Sancocho de Mariscos”. Many latin cultures have a similar seafood stew; my first introduction to this Panamanian favorite incorporated stewed chicken into the background, with sea bass, squid and mussels as the primary ingredients.
Like many foods in Panama, Sancocho de Mariscos was introduced by the Spanish and adapted by the locals to include foods commonly grown and readily available in the region such as local tubers like yucca, ñame or otoes. In some of the Colombian, Ecuadoran and Dominican versions, people put coconut milk or plantain chunks in their sancocho. I often add coconut milk and yucca (I can’t always get yucca or plantains at the local grocers, sometimes I have to make a trip to my favorite latino mercado in Eugene).
In each of my trips to Central America, I’ve talked with many chefs and foodies who’ve migrated to Panama from neighboring countries and have learned that the secret to any good seafood stew is the sofrito – a base of aromatic vegetables braised in oil, which provides a flavorful backdrop and allows the seafood to take centerstage in the dish. It takes a little time, but it’s well worth the effort. I’ve adapted my own sofrito recipe to suit my own taste and my customers’ palate – but I’m not afraid to add a little “heat” when cooking for friends at home.
Fresh cilantro and lime juice lightens it up, then add our clam juice …
And here’s the finished sofrito … let’s give it a moment to shine before we add the Good Stuff!
We add key ingredients – Spanish saffron, mussels, shrimp, sea clams, just to name a few …
Often served over rice, this seafood stew is perfectly capable of standing (or swimming) on its own! Garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro and another squeeze of lime … you can thank me later, just eat!
Bon appetit! Cindy
Twice a week, we head into our petite but cozy kitchen and cook “old school” — just the way our mamas taught us! Our popular Take-Home Suppers are made from scratch with the very best and most wholesome ingredients we can find. Tonight’s offering of perfectly seasoned Pot Roast with Red Potatoes and Braised Carrots reminds us of Mom’s Sunday Dinner after church … oh, the aromas that would greet us as we walked through the front door!
At Mon Ami, it is our privilege and our pleasure to offer you real food made with real love, because we believe Comfort Food nourishes more than just the body.
“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness. The angels, who know no hunger, have never been as satisfied.”
― Eli Brown, Cinnamon and Gunpowder
We invited gal-pal Kelly Riggs (of Kelly’s Cantina in Old Town) to join us on an adventure over the mountain to go a-pickin’ in the country! And what fun we had snoopin’ around in barns and old farmhouses (it’s a good thing we were wearin’ our boots)! After our final stop at “Junque in the Trunk” hosted by Barb Simmons of Treasures from the Heart, we said “adios” to our new friends, loaded up the rig with all our treasures, and headed back towards to ranch … er, the shop. Here’s a sneak peek of just a few of our favorite picks!