Fish and meaty mains

How to make Jocom: a recipe from Escuela La Paz

Jocom is a delicious zesty dish from the Quiche indigenous group of Guatemala: how to make jock

Back in 2004 I spent several months working at an awesome little Spanish school for foreigners in Xela, Guatemala called Escuela La Paz. Every now and then the school director, Angelica would give cooking lessons to the students. Jocom was one of my favourite recipes from those lessons. The recipe originates from the indigenous group, Quiche and comes from Angelica’s grandmother. It uses ingredients that were cultivated regularly in the local Quiche villages. I have adapted the recipe slightly but it is basically as told to me by Angelica. Here is how to make Jocom…

How to make Jocom: Ingredients (serves 6)

For chicken and sauce:

1 medium chicken around 1.5kg, broken up into 6-8 pieces

2 cups of chicken stock

1 large bunch of coriander, leaves roughly chopped (no stems)

1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped (no stems)

250gm tomatillos, peeled (use green tomatoes if you can’t find tomatillos)

4 whole spring onions, cleaned and roughly chopped using the whole thing

3 medium size cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

3 small white bread rolls

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh lime to taste


For the rice:

1.5 cups of rice, rinsed a few times

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced

0.5 cup of peas (fresh or frozen will be fine)

1 fresh tomato (any type will do), finely chopped


How to make Jocom: Method

  1. Bring equal parts chicken stock and water to a rolling simmer in a large pot. Season chicken pieces and then poach chicken in stock and water mixture for 30mins.
  2. While chicken is poaching, sauté the whole chopped spring onions, tomatillos and garlic for 2 minutes and then add to a food processor with the chopped coriander and parsley. Ensure to keep a little coriander and parsley aside for garnish.
  3. When chicken is just cooked, remove from poaching liquor and set aside to rest. Don’t throw out the poaching liquor as that is key the next few steps!
  4. In a large frying pan or wide shallow pot, sauté the diced carrot and onion in a little oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add the rice and keep stirring until all rice is well coated in oil and combined with the vegetables.
  5. Add 3 cups of the poaching liquor plus the peas and fresh tomato to the rice. Give a good stir and then cover with a well fitting lid of aluminium foil. Reduce heat to low and leave the rice to cook, covered for 20mins.
  6. While rice is cooking, add the final cup of poaching liquor to the food processor with the herbs, garlic and spring onion and then blend to a relatively smooth sauce. If the sauce is too runny, add in a slice or two of bread and blend again.
  7. In another pan, fry off the chicken pieces in a little oil over a medium heat for 5mins or long enough to brown the chicken. Add in the sauce with the chicken and then season with more salt and pepper and lime juice to taste. Reduce sauce to a simmer and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the rice is ready.
  8. After twenty minutes, turn off the heat for the rice and leave covered for another 10 minutes to complete cooking. Fluff up with a fork and it’s ready to serve.
  9. Serve with a little garnish of the remaining coriander and parsley plus wedges of fresh lime.

NOTE: For a fresher, more zingy Jocom sauce, skip the sautéing in step 2 and just process the spring onions, garlic and tomatillos fresh.

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