Traditional Canary Islands cooking: sancocho


Canarian gastronomy is the great hidden secret that Spain has. We all know how rich Spanish cuisine is, but Canarian has peculiarities that make it unique. Among all the magnificent dishes that we can find, such as ropa vieja, goat meat or watercress stew, the main dish is the Canarian sancocho.

It is a dish that is not usually cooked daily in Canarian homes, however, in some restaurants scattered throughout the islands it can be found on their menu as the maximum exponent of the archipelago's gastronomy.

Today we want to bring you a little closer to this traditional and emblematic dish of all Canaries.

We want to review its history, its idiosyncrasy, how it has become a benchmark of Canarian culture, becoming something more than a recipe. And of course, we will tell you how you can make your own sancocho in your kitchen.

History of the Canarian sancocho

There are some theories that speak of the origin of the production of the Canarian sancocho, which undoubtedly comes from dried and salty fish, but, nevertheless, it is believed that its origin is linked to the Portuguese who settled on the islands

These were large consumers of cod and in the islands, the cod was not so easily found, so they had to resort to another typical fish in the islands, the cherne.


The history of the Canarian sancocho emerged in the mid-19th century. We are at a time when fish had to be sold the same day it was caught, since no conservation methods were known.

However, as we enter the twentieth century, changes are beginning to be seen with respect to the gastronomy of the islands. There is a leap in quality in terms of food preservation with the introduction of salting

It is at this time when the first news of the sancocho as we know it today begins to be heard. Likewise, it took a few more years for the idea to catch on in Canarian society and become consolidated.

For this reason, the idea of dried and salted fish did not reach all places equally, in the center of the island it took a while to arrive, but when it did, it became the main food for those who went to work. to the field or the sea.

In each part of the island it is prepared in a different way. In the south, it is made with cherne or conger, potatoes and sweet potatoes, on the other hand, in the north it is preferred to use another type of fish such as corvina accompanied by vegetables.

How to prepare a good Canarian sancocho?

Knowing the history and origin of such a typical Canarian food as the Canarian sancocho is essential to understand why it is so popular and so beloved.

Surely at this time you are wondering how this dish is really prepared, what ingredients are used and the steps to follow.

Well that is precisely what comes next, we are going to teach you the most traditional way of making the delicious Canarian sancocho.

The first thing you should know is what are the ingredients used:


  • A kilo of salty cherne.
  • A kilo of potatoes.
  • Half a kilo of sweet potatoes (sweet potato).
  • About 500 grams of gofio for the pella.
  • Salt.
  • Sugar.
  • Water.
  • Mojo.
  • Oil.
  • Vinegar.

First step: the fish

Traditionally, the fish used is cherne. Other fish such as corvina or donkey can also be used.


The first thing to do is to leave the fish desalted before cooking. It will be placed in a container with water for 24 hours, changing the water about 5-6 times.

Second step: introduce the potatoes and the sweet potato with the fish

Once you have completely desalted the fish, you can go peeling the potatoes and sweet potatoes. You put them in the cauldron with water, this time without salt, you add the fish.

Usually fish are cooked earlier than potatoes and sweet potatoes. If so, remove the fish when you see that it is done and continue boiling them.

Third step: prepare the pella and the mojo

Now it is the turn of one of the ingredients that gives the special touch to the Canarian sancocho, the mojo. 

To prepare the mojo you will need the oil, vinegar, salt, paprika, garlic and cumin. In some homes, red pepper is added to give it a touch of color. The preparation is very easy, add all the ingredients together in a blender and mix them well.


To prepare the pella you will only need water, sugar and gofio. Bananas, walnuts, honey or almonds are also added on some occasions to give a sweet and special touch to the pella.

Pour the gofio into a bowl, add sugar and add water until it becomes a very compact dough, at which point the pella will be shaped and ready to enjoy.

Fourth step: enjoy the sancocho

Once you have everything finished, you will only need to assemble everything: put the fish, potatoes and sweet potato, on top of the mojo and to one side some slices of gofio pella.


At this moment, you will be able to enjoy the best Canarian sancocho in the company of your loved ones. In the Canary Islands, it is a tradition that they are eaten during Holy Week, more specifically on Good Friday, where whole families gather to enjoy.

Sancocho canario: the axis of Canarian cuisine

Canarian gastronomy is rich and varied. You just have to go around its villages and its little corners to realize the magic of this cuisine.

It is a cuisine that is yet to be discovered by many and to continue to enjoy to the fullest for those who already know it.

Sancocho is a dish that leaves no one indifferent. It has an amalgam of flavors that make it unique: the salty of its fish, the sweetness of its sweet potato and peel and that flavor so intense and so ours as is the mojo.

In summary, we hope that you have been able to get to know this very important dish for Canarian gastronomy and culture a little better. If you visit our island, you cannot leave it without trying the Canarian sancocho, the mythical pella de gofio and the rich Canarian sauce, the mojo picón.

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