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).
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