Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
May 6, 2008 02:23 PM

How to use Dried Peruvian Potatoes (Papas Secas) Carapulcra

Does anyone know how to properly cook papas secas (peruvian dried potatoes) I have been trying to make dish "Carapulcra", which is a stew made with papas secas, chicken/pork, aji panca (chili), peanuts etc. I have found a couple of recipes on the web and made some that turned out well, but i was unclear about how to cook the dried potatoes. They are hard as a rock when you buy them, and one recipe called for "toasting" them in a pan prior to soaking them in broth for 30 minutes and then putting them in the stew. The other recipe called for soaking them for a water for an hour or 2 before cooking - no "toasting" involved. What I actually did was pan fry them in a little oil, but since they have the consistency of rocks, only some of them absorbed the oil, and they fried inconsistently - different shades of darkness, etc. (they start out as a translucent yellow).

Thanks for the advice!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If those are chun(y)os (stomped potatoes freeze dried at high altitude and under exrtremely dry, cold, low oxygen conditions), just soak for a bit and then toss them into a slow cooked soup or stew. Delicious. Otherwise, I don't know what "papas secas" are.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      It sounds like chun(y)os are papas secas. I think papas secas just means "dried potatoes". Thanks for the tip.

      1. re: mikelowie

        Mike, OK, "dried Peruvian potatoes" and papas secas it is. Let us know how you do them.

        For others familiar with the wonderous Peruvian and Bolivian altiplano, however, I think we agree that chun(y)os are man's first freeze-dried food. People dance on potato chunks at very high DRY COLD altitude--resulting in almost instant freeze-drying. The resulting chun(y)o is a shriveled blackish/greyish, brownish mushroomish thing that is a delicacy of the world. Nothing beats a soup with chun(y)o in places like Oruro or Potosi!

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I believe I know what mike is talking about, as I have seen them in my local market. The Papas secas, literally looklike just that, bits of dried potato,light colored or even golden, they look nothing like what you've just described.

          but they do seem to be authentic, as my market has numerous varieties of them along with all the other peruvian wares...I've often wondered about them myself...

      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

        When I make chairo (a Bolivian soup/stew), I soak the chun(y)o overnight. It takes a while for the water to get into it. In the morning they are usually soft enough to break apart into chunks. Then I soak them some more, with a few changes of water. This prevents the soup from being bitter. I learned this from the cookbook "Nuestras Comidas" which is the best resource for authentic Bolivian cooking.

        1. re: AmyH

          Does it have a recipe for saice (a street food hash I ate in Tarija for years in the 70s)?

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I'm sure it does. But the book is at home. In the meantime, here's a recipe for it from a Bolivian web page that takes most of its recipes right from the Nuestras Comidas book.

            ½ kilo carne de vaca (cadera)
            ½ taza aceite
            1 taza arvejas verdes peladas
            2 tazas cebolla blanca, picada finamente
            1 taza tomate, pelado y picado finamente
            ½ taza ají colorado, molido
            ½ cucharilla comino, molido
            1 cucharilla orégano, desmenuzado
            ½ taza perejil, finamente picado
            ½ cucharilla pimienta molida
            1 cucharada sal o al gusto
            3 tazas de caldo o agua fría

            Para Acompañar:
            8 papas blancas peladas y cocidas aparte
            chuno phuti
            salsa cruda
            arroz graneado
            2 cucharadas perejil picado finamente

            Golpear la carne sobre el batán o mortero, hasta adelgazarla completamente. Luego picarla en pedazos menudos.
            En una olla poner la carne picada con todos los demás ingredientes.
            Poner a cocer primero a fuego fuerte hasta que hierva y despues a fuego lento, hasta que todo esté
            muy bien cocido. Hacer cocer por una hora más o menos. Si la preparación se secara un poco, añadir caldo o agua caliente. Debe ser una preparación muy jugosa.
            Servir en plato hondo con una papa blanca cocida, arroz graneado o chuno phuti y salsa cruda encima.

            1. re: AmyH

              Wow! Thank you. I've never made the dish, having always eaten it on the street. Simple to make and will bring back fond memories!

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                AmyH, thanks for me too. Can Nuestras Comidas be purchased on line? I see you live in the Tristate area. We hit Mi Bolivia Restaurant in Woodside, Queens for chuno, saltainas, sopa de mani, coca te and Pacena beer.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  I could have sworn that had Nuestras Comidas for sale. But I'm not finding it there. However, they do have other Bolivian cookbooks:

                  Aha! I found it at

                  I would love to make a roadtrip to Mi Bolivia Restaurant. 75% of my kids are Bolivian and it would be great to eat in a Bolivian restaurant without having to go to Northern Virginia or Bolivia. Could you give me an address and phone number for the restaurant? We live in Albany, so we're not familiar with Queens at all.

                  1. re: AmyH

                    AmyH (Sam too), Mi Bolivia Restaurant is on 44-10 48th Ave, Woodside, NY. It is just 2 blocks off Roosevelt Blvd. and I think the 46th St. stop on the 7 subway line. I drive over the 59th st Bridge or come in from the north via the thruway. Mi Bolivia is very inexpensive for large servings.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Thank you Passadumkeg! What a fun road trip this would be. Do you think they could package salten~as to go? There was a Bolivian restaurant in Maryland (unfortunately now closed) that used to do this for us. We'd keep them in the freezer and bake them up for a salten~a fix.

                      1. re: AmyH

                        Saltenas are an addictive drug! My mom lives in NJ. We call ahead, 718 784-5111, tell them we are coming and to make extra chicken saltenas. We get a couple of dozen, they are $1.50 a piece, take them to mom's, freeze them and bring them frozen, in a cooler, back to Maine.
                        How are your kids 75% Bolivian? Did you live in Bolivia? We taught in Santa Cruz and adopted a little street kid. She is now studying in Austin, TX.
                        I'm going to order Nuestra Comica; making saltenas are sooo much work!
                        Great chicharron at mi Bolivia too. We just visted Costa Rica and it felt, with all the "ecotourism" to be a cross between wild Bolivia and touristy Disney World. And the chicharoon was bad!

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Thanks for all the info for Mi Bolivia. I can't wait to go there! My boys will go crazy for the chicharron.
                          We adopted 3 of our 4 kids from Cochabamba. We never lived there, but spent 5 weeks there each time we adopted. Plus 2 weeks in the summer 2006 as tourists.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Glad to be of help. Enjoy! And let me know how it turns out. Maybe I'll make it one day.

                3. re: AmyH

                  I just checked the recipe for Saisi in Nuestras Comidas and it's almost exactly the same. The ingredients are identical and only a few of the words in the modo de preparar have been changed to avoid the copyright. Please note that the recipe is intended to serve 8 people. When I make it, I will cut back on the aji colorado, maybe to a tablespoon or two. Half a cup would be a bit much for us!

                  1. re: AmyH

                    Same with the oil--a few Tbsp will be enough. Thanks again. I've never encountered a similar street (or home) food like saisi in the rest of Latin America.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I agree that's a lot of oil, especially when you're not using it to fry with, just dumping it in with the rest of the ingredients. I wonder if it would be good in the crockpot. It seems like it, with all of the ingredients added together and the long simmering time.

                      I also agree that certain dishes are very specific to certain countries (or even cities) in Latin America. Like those papas secas the OP asked about. Seems like they're only found in Peru. I never saw anything like that in the markets of Bolivia. And the Bolivian chicharron is different than any other country's.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Sam, I made the Saisi tonight. It was fantastic. The kids wished there was more of it. I used 2 Tbsp of the chili and it had a definite bite to it but wasn't overpowering. I use aji rojo that I bought in Bolivia, so it's authentic. I also used about 1 or 2 Tbsp (a glug) of oil. I can definitely see why you like the dish so much. I served it with rice, boiled potatoes, and fried plantains.

            2. Papa seca should be soaked, times can vary from 30 minutes to two hours depending on the type of potato. Just check for desired consistency. Drain off the liquid after soaking and before adding to your carapulcra or other recipe. BTW, the difference in color discussed below can be attributed to the many different types of potatoes used, either yellow, white even purple Andean potato.

              3 Replies
              1. re: roxie0102

                Hello, I looked up "papas secas" as I have a little bag of the Peruvian one. My hairdresser is Peruvian, and he mentioned the typical stew. Would that originally have been made with cuy, or something else?

                These papas look as if a night's soaking wouldn't hurt them, but I don't want to turn them from papas (potatoes) to pap (baby food). How does one tell? They are a beautiful deep brown-golden colour, like agates. But there are so many varieties of potato in Brazil. Sam, isn't November the Month of the Potato?

                I'll probably make with chicken, as some of the friends don't eat pork.

                1. re: lagatta

                  The highest potato diversity is in Peru and Bolivia.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    Don't worry about them turning to pap. They don't get that soft, even after soaking and boiling. I soak mine whole overnight, then in the morning change the water and break them up into smaller pieces and soak some more. You'll see that the middles are still pretty dry when you break them. It's best to do several more changes of water to get any bitterness out.

                2. Soak them overnight then cook like you would normal potatoes.