Food Culture, Traditional Food, Travel

Charquekan, A Bolivian Delight

Charquecan Homemade (Walter Coraza Morveli)

From the moment I arrived La Paz captivated me with its rich gastronomy. In the city all of Bolivia as well many nations are represented in the city’s food offerings. I was especially enchanted by the many types of typical foods of La Paz and elsewhere and how they were shared.

One weekend, the family who hosted us decided to prepare a special family lunch and share with us, in this way some of the best of Bolivia’s cuisine.

Charque Kan is one of the favorite dishes of Bolivia. Though originating in Oruro, it is prepared throughout the country such as in the cities of Oruro, La Paz, and more. Natalie, who is from Cochabamba was generous and kind enough to prepare this wonderful dish for us.

She told me about how it is prepared. The day before you plan to sere it you have to buy jerky and set it to soak. The next day you cook it with water in a pressure cooker. Once done you tear it into fine strands that you then fry with a little oil. You should also have ready slices of cheese, mote (boiled kernels of corn), boiled potatoes, boiled egg, and the Bolivian hot sauce, llajua.

The dish is served in a mountain with the shredded and fried jerky on top of it all. The dish has an unforgettable flavor that delights. It contains jerky form beef or llama, fresh mote, cheese, boiled eggs, and llajua. This last is never missing on Bolivian tables and is made by grinding fresh ripe tomatoes and fresh rocotos peppers, locotos as they are called in Bolivia. Many cooks also add a bit of quirquiña, a Bolivian herb.

This succulent dish is not something you eat with a knife and fork. Instead you enjoy it by eating with your hands. It is, as they say, “para chuparse los dedos”, “finger-licking good”.

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