The geographical set up of Ecuador is blessed with a variety of natural ingredients. The large coastal region of Ecuador makes seafood plenty. There are much kind of traditional Andean crops like potatoes and grains like quinoa and corn that are cultivated in the mountainous strip that is in the middle of Ecuador. The region is tropical thus produces a number of exotic fruits. The Ecuadorian diet is made of staples like yuca, potatoes, beans, rice, seafood, chicken, plantains, pork and beef. Aji is a chili pepper hot sauce found in Ecuador. My favorite 8 Traditional Dishes of Ecuador are as follows:
Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche
Mmmmmmm…. This is the most common Ecuadorian dish and a favorite to all. The dish is made the following methods: combine peeled onion with mix with lime juice then add salt and put aside, combine 4 cups of water, reserved onion slice, 2 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper all in a medium saucepan then boil. You can add shrimp and blanch for one to two minutes or till lightly pink, you can remove the shrimp then drain then add tomato mixture, shrimp, onion and lime juice mix well and cover before you cool and finally you can add cilantro and oil then mix to combine. After the exercise you can serve the dish with popcorn, plantain chips, and roasted corn kernels.
Biche de Pescado – Ecuadorian Fish Stew
Biche de pescado is a fantastic Andrew stew, chock full of traditional local ingredients such as coconut, corn, plantain, yuca and peanuts. It is simple to make, even though it has a complex taste that boasts both sweet and exotic. Sweet plantains and peanut broth are perfectly complemented with the local fish flavor. Most stores that sell Latin products have frozen yuca (tolled and stringy fibers removed). But if you don’t mind doing the work, the homemade version is that much more satisfying.
I’d recommend using super ripe plantain and fresh coconut. The stew works well with many different kinds of local fish. If you are sensitive to heads floating in your soup, remove it from the broth first before mixing. But typically the broth is flavored by the whole fish, head, bones and tail and the Ecuadorians aren’t afraid of leaving remnants in the soup. But the flavor, absolutely divine!
Humitas Verdes – Fresh Corn Tamales with Cilantro
We’ve all had tamales before, the Ecuadorian version is truly a must-try-flavor! Humitas is a kind of tamal that is made with ground fresh corn apart from the usual dried corn meal known as masa harina. The ground fresh corn makes humitas taste sweet than the traditional tamales. The humitas are prepared from the large Kernel Andean corn known as choclo that are always found in frozen section of Latina food stores. Luckily here, we can buy directly from the fresh markets directly from the farmer. (Sorry, I know you are jealous.)
The humitas verdes trademark bright green color is given by cilantro. You can prepare humitas plain, a combination of cheese, olives, roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, roast pork. It is up to you to decide. We haven’t made them yet, but I just might roll up my sleeves and give it a shot. Here’s a fabulous post by Hungry Sophia on Ecuadorian tamales.
Ecuadorian Potato Cakes (Llapingachos)
They are also known as yah-peen-GAH-chos. These are Ecuadorian traditional dishes referred to as potato pancakes that are made from crushed potatoes seasoned with onions and sated with cheese. Um yum! Salsa de Mani is a creamy peanut sauce that is typically with Llapingachos and is served often alongside, avocado, a simple salad, chorizo sausage and fried egg for the meal to complete. They remind us a little of a cross between pupusa and latkes…
Fritada de chancho or Ecuadorian pork fritada
Fritada de chancho is a popular weekend dish here in Ecuador. The pork is cooked in a sweet mixture of orange juice and water, seasoned by onions, cumin garlic, salt & pepper until the liquid cooks down, browning the meat through the process. This is a typical plate from the highlands region of Ecuador and is traditionally found in restaurants and snack stalls throughout the weekend local Andean villages.
This tasty combination is a clear example of cultural mixture between the Spanish culinary tradition and local Ecuadorian traditions, as pork consumption did not occur in America until after the Spanish colonized over 500 years ago. This dish would not be the same without the readily available local ingredients: mote (range white corn), plantains, potatoes, pickled (marinated tomato and onion with lemon) and roasted corn.
Encebollados (literally, “onionateds”) are a wonderful local food, though not well known outside of Ecuador. This is a traditional Ecuadorian coastal dish that consists of seafood in a tangy, tomatoey soup with mashed yuca, onion and coriander.
Our friend’s father brought this to the beach with us one morning and I thought he was crazy, but after I tried it, I was hooked! This dish can be made with varying degrees of lemon juice according to taste, and served with toasted corn or fried slices of plantain called chifles. That morning I was informed, this was the special Ecuadorian coast remedy said to cure hangovers. Did I need it that particular morning on the beach? I’ll never tell.
Choclo con queso
Choclo con queso literally means corn with cheese. It’s simple but certainly an Ecuadorian staple. Cobs of Andean corn or choclo having large kernels and I think taste quite different compared to corn that is sold. It’s mellow in flavor, actually. Then, it’s generously slathered with a fresh soft cheese, similar in consistency to tofu.
The queso fresco is literally fresh cheese and always made locally in each town. Choclo con queso on the cobb can be found in any food stand from the coast to the midlands, to the mountains to the jungle. In restaurants, this dish is often served along side a meat dish, already removed from the cobb.
Yes, like just over the border to Peru, the guinea pig is still the most talked dishes about when discussing Ecuadorian tradition fares. We listed this on our post 8 Traditional Dishes of Peru but it just happens to be a favorite in this country as well. Cuy is served in most Andean towns and is primarily on special occasions. When we wrote the post about Peruvian food, we hadn’t actually tried cuy, but since then, we have!!!! And, guess, what??? It’s delicious!
Like Peru, Ecuadorian dishes vary according to its geography which has its own distinct flavor and flare. While traveling anywhere, we always urge you to try the local favorites sampling something new as a chance to embrace a new culture.