In Colombia, ajiaco is a soupy stew in which the main ingredients are several kinds of potatoes, corn, guascas – a local herb – and aji, or hot sauce. Traditionally, chicken is added, but in the past I have made an entirely vegetable-based ajiaco, which is very good indeed. Now try it with fish; this is possibly the best variation of all. You cannot, I think, get guascas here, which is why I have always called my chicken version ajiaco sin guascas, but you can use watercress, mizuna or rocket for a similar effect.
In a pot gently fry the onion in the oil, and add the large potatoes, cut up into pieces. Add half the stock, and simmer for 20 minutes, before adding the waxy potatoes, sliced into thick collops, and the small potatoes.
Put in the white wine and the rest of the stock, and cook until the small potatoes are tender and the floury potatoes have collapsed to thicken the soup.
Cut the corn cobs into 2 or 3 pieces, and add to the pan, together with the fish, cut into good-size chunks, the scallops and watercress.
Bring gently back to just below boiling point, and let it barely simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in hot soup plates, with or without hot sauce, and with plenty of good fresh bread.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.