Sancocho de Pescado al Coco

Fish Sancocho with Coconut Milk

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 4


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

This sancocho is typical of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; both prepare many of their seafood dishes with coconut milk. Adding the lime juice right before eating greatly enhances the flavor, so we usually do it in the Caribbean coast. Try adding it to a little soup on the side before you add it your whole bowl, as it might be an acquired taste!


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (-pound) white fish, cleaned, and cut into steaks (including the heads)
  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • cups sliced tomatoes
  • 5 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • cups coconut milk (freshly made, or canned)
  • ¾ pound peeled and cubed yuca* or cassava
  • 1 peeled green plantain*, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 unpeeled ripe plantain*, cut crosswise into 1-inch chunks
  • ½ pound peeled ñame* or yam
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fish bouillon cube (optional)
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Patacones, for serving
  • 2 limes, quartered, for serving


  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic paste, 2 tablespoons of the minced cilantro, lime juice, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and rub on the fish pieces, heads included. Set aside for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a a large pot over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and sear the fish steaks for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Leave the fish heads in the pot.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and whole garlic cloves and cook for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of water, the coconut milk, yuca, green and ripe plantains, ñame, salt and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper. (Add the bouillon cube if your fish is not a strong tasting one.) Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the ripe plantains and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes more. Add the fish steaks and simmer covered 10 minutes more. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro and serve.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls, and the fish and vegetables on a separate platter, with white rice, patacones, and pieces of lime alongside.