Viuda de Pescado

Fish Widow

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 4


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

I usually serve this dish without ñame or pumpkin. If you prefer to leave out some of the vegetables, just increase the other ones. For example, I use three-quarter of a pound each of yuca and potatoes in place of the ones I mentioned. This is a great dish to prepare on cold winter nights; it is heartwarming and delicious. The name of this recipe comes from the legend of a spirit dressed like a woman that lived near the fishing town of Buenaventura and smelled like fish; she would appear to men who cheated on their wives.

Different parts of the country use different kinds of fish, but the original recipe is with bocachico, which is a gray migratory river fish.


  • 2 to 3 pounds whole white fish, cleaned, scaled, and gutted, or 4 (6-ounce) fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallion
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ onion, cut in quarters
  • 5 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin*
  • 1 small green plantain*, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • ½ pound peeled yuca*, quartered lengthwise
  • ½ pound (3 small) peeled potatoes, halved
  • ½ pound peeled ñame* or yam, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small ripe unpeeled plantain*, cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • ½ pound peeled pumpkin, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • ½ cup Hogao del Pacífico
  • Cooked white rice, for serving


  1. Make sure all the scales have been removed from the fish by passing your hands over them from tail to head. Season the fish or fillets by rubbing with the oil, scallion, garlic, and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat place 6 cups of water, the quartered onion, cilantro, cloves garlic, salt, and cumin. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the green plantain, yuca, potatoes, and ñame, and simmer covered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the ripe plantain and pumpkin, and simmer for 15 minutes more.
  5. If using whole fish, add and simmer covered 15 minutes more; if using fillets, add and simmer covered for 10 minutes more.
  6. To serve, place 1 or 2 pieces of each vegetable on each plate. Place the fish on top, pour on the liquid from the pot, and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Hogao del Pacífico to each.
  7. Serve with white rice.

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