Would you like some crazy with your may?
One of my favorite things about Chilean food is the fresh seafood. Sometimes it’s prepared the typical Chilean way (lots of mayo and avocado) but other times you can find the seafood prepared just as it was meant to be tasted. Minimal is the way to go to let the flavor of the fresh fish shine. One food we encountered that I had never had prior to my trip in Chile is locos. Valparaiso, Chile is full of some good eats where you can sample the bounty of the sea.
What we ate: Locos
What’s up with that title? Crazy with may? What does that mean?! Have I completely lost it? 6 months of traveling and now I’ve gone mad? No, I am simply referring to ‘locos con mayo’ and one of Chile’s most humorous translations. I first saw ‘locos con mayo’ at a restaurant on the southern Chilean coast and as I am consistently trying to work on my Spanish, I translated it (a bit too literally) as crazy with may. What could this mean? Was may the month or a girl I wondered? Why was she/it crazy? So I did a little investigating and found out that locos were more than just crazy. They were abalone. Well, sort of.
Abalone is the name given to any large edible sea snail, according to Wikipedia. If you want to read more about the whorls & apertures of the abalone, click here. This Chilean version, locos, is more properly known as concholepas concholepas (I know, a bit redundant but it’s really called that!). Even though they are both gastropods, the locos are carnivores which lend a more tender texture.
The biggest problem with locos in Chile doesn’t have anything to do with the texture but the overfishing. This has resulted in all out wars for locos. While we were peacefully kayaking in Chepu, a local war broke out among loco ‘fishermen’. There were guns involved. Overfishing is a huge problem in Chile not just for the salmon but for locos too. There are still places in Chile to get wild locos but you need a certified diving license to do so.
The most common preparation for locos is with mayonnaise (hence the locos con mayo).
Chileans really love their mayonnaise but sorry Chile, I do not share you love for this condiment which is added to the point of excess. So I searched for a more simple preparation that allowed the locos flavor to shine and I finally found it in Chile’s most colorful city, Valparaiso.
Where we ate it: Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo, one of Chile’s best restaurants, had the locos preparation I was seeking.
A touch of creme fraiche in a butter-lemon sauce, wafer-thin radishes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers & parsley. The most simplest of ingredients perfectly in place to highlight the flavor & texture of the locos.
And for the uninitiated, what do locos taste like? They have a delicate, mild flavor very similar to calamari and maybe even a scallop but not as sweet. It’s important to tenderize the meat and fortunately for our tastebuds, the chef prepared the dish to perfection. The meat was tender and melted in your mouth along with the taste of butter, cream and lemon. The crunch of the radish, the taste of salt from the caper, sweetness from the sundried tomato were all tied together through the herbal notes of the parsley making the locos sing in your mouth. Do not hesitate. If you are in Valparaiso and want to try locos go to Espiritu Santos located at:Hector Calvo 392, Valparaiso, Chile