Food - Drink
Cochayuyo: The Delectable Sea Vegetable That's A Chilean Staple
By CLAIRE REDDEN
Cochayuyo is a species of bull kelp that happens to be a "blue food," or "food derived from aquatic animals, plants, or algae that are caught or cultivated in freshwater and marine environments," says Blue Food Assessment. Now only is cochayuyo sustainable, as all blue foods are; it's also delicious and rampantly popular in Chile.
Cochayuyo has been a staple in Chile for over 14,000 years, and it is believed that the Indigenous community in south-central Chile depended heavily on the protein-dense plant for quite a long time. This seaweed has a distinct honeycombed tissue, ranges in color from brown to green, and can grow up to 50 feet in length.
Cochayuyo is rich in protein, nutrients, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and iodine, and has a mildly salty and smoky flavor. According to Atlas Obscura, the kelp works well as a flavor enhancer, like a "natural form of MSG," but is also delicious as a snack; in Chile, the seaweed is used in everything from salads to ceviches to stews.
Cochayuyo is usually dried, and needs to be rehydrated in water before preparing. While it's not the easiest to find, cochayuyo and other sea vegetables may become more common and more important in the future; the United Nations even believes that blue foods could be the foundation of a stable food system in the face of climate change.