Sancocho (from the Spanish verb sancochar, “to parboil”) is a traditional soup (often considered a stew) in several Latin American cuisines derived from the Spanish dish known as Cocido. Variations represent popular national dishes in the Honduras, Canary Islands, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. It usually consists of large pieces of meat and vegetables served in a broth. There are similar dishes in other countries, such as Bouillon in Haiti.
Variations of Sancocho
Sancocho in Latin America, especially the Caribbean, evolved from both Puchero Canario and Sancocho of the Canary Islands, which were brought with “Canarios” (Canary Islanders who emigrated to Latin America).
In the Canary Islands, the dish is usually made with fish. The fish is usually cooked whole.
Sancocho is a traditional food in Colombia made with many kinds of meat (most commonly pollo (chicken), gallina (hen), pescado (fish), and cola (ox tail)) along with large pieces of plátano (plantain), papa (potato), yuca (cassava) and/or other vegetables such as tomato, spring onion, coriander, and mazorca (corn on the cob), depending on the region. Some even top it off with fresh coriander, onion and squeezed lime – a sort of “pico de gallo”, minus the tomato; it is also usually served with a plate of white rice on the side, which is usually dipped in with each spoonful of soup.
In Costa Rica there is a similar dish, although it is called olla de carne (meat pot).
Dominican “Sancocho” is considered one of the national dishes, along with “la bandera” (the flag), consisting of white rice, generally red beans and meat, usually pollo (chicken). There is a variant called Sancocho cruzado or Sancocho de siete carnes which includes pollo (chicken), res (beef) and cerdo (pork) along with other meats. “Sancocho de siete carnes” means “Seven meat Sancocho,” and is considered the ultimate sancocho dish. In the Dominican Republic, Longaniza (a type of pork sausage) is also used. Sancocho de gallina (hen sancocho) is common as well, often made for special occasions or on weekends. While sancocho de habichuela (bean sancocho) and sancocho de guandules are common, other types of sancocho are very rare in the Dominican Republic.
In Ecuador, sancocho is a comfort food made with pork. It has the typical ingredients: yuca, plantain, and corn “choclo”.
In El Salavador, sancocho is a stew made with the offal of cattle, such as the stomach.
Also known as Sancocho de gallina, it is the national dish and it originates from the Azuero region. The basic ingredients are chicken (preferably free range), ñame (adding flavour and acting as a thickener, giving it its characteristic texture and brightness), and culantro (giving it most of its characteristic flavour and greenish tone); often yuca, mazorca (Corn on the cob) and otoe are added. Other optional ingredients include ñampí (as the Eddoe variety of Taro is known), chopped onions, garlic and oregano. It is frequently served with white rice on the side, meant to be either mixed in or eaten with each spoonful. Hot sauce is also frequently added, depending on regional and individual preferences. Regional varieties include Sancocho chorrerano (a specialty of the town of La Chorrera, which is only made with free range chicken, onions, garlic, chilli peppers, oregano and ñame) and Sancocho chiricano (a specialty from Chiriquí Province and the heartiest variety, containing squash in addition to all basic and optional ingredients mentioned before, having a yellowish colour as a result). It is often recommended as the best remedy for a hangover and it is also used a metaphor for the country’s racial diversity (much like the salad bowl concept in the United States) due to the varied ingredients that contribute their particular properties to and having an equally important role in the cooking process and final product.
The Peruvian sancocho is called “sancochado” a baseline: meat chunks, corn, rice and potatoes.
Reflecting Spanish-influence, Sancocho is eaten in the Philippines where the hearty stew is made with beef shanks, chicken, pork butt, bacon, chorizo de bilbao and morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) as well as potatoes, cabbage, bok choy, carrots and string beans. Known as cocido in the Philippines it is often confused with Puchero Filipino, which may use ham and different sausages.
Sancocho is considered a fairly rustic dish. It is made with chicken (Sancocho de gallina), top round beef (Sancocho), pork feet with chick peas (Sancocho de patitas), or beef short ribs with chorizo, chicken and smoked ham. There are several versions and every house hold has their own take on sancocho but a true Puerto Rican sancocho always calls for tubers and sofrito. The soup is usually seasoned with beef stock, cumin, and pepper. Other vegetables and flavouring can include celery, carrots, ginger, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, burgundy wine, rum, and annatto. Ripe and unripened plantains, green bananas, yellow and white corn, potatoes, ñame, malanga, and yuca are also added.