About the Food of Ecuador

Until about five minutes ago I was sitting in bed, bundled up in a wool sweater, under a down comforter, eating a candy cane, and freezing my fingers off.  Now I’m packing for Ecuador.

What’s so alluring about Ecuador?

They have it all. The Pacific Ocean. Staggering mountains (complete with active volcanoes disguised as pristine mountain-top lakes) and the Galapagos Islands, themselves made up of volcanoes. There are rain forests, bursting at the seams with wildlife and there are dusty villages filled with tradition. With something for everyone, choosing between bustling city action and rumbling, bumbling country life is just the beginning.

Convinced? Let’s have dinner.

Pull up a chair to the Ecuadorian table and you’ll be met with a carb-heavy spread loaded with potato, avocado, corn, and/or rice – balanced by a fresh salad and tropical fruit. You’ll about pass out when you try Locro [Recipe], their answer to our creamy potato/cheese soup. The South American spin? Locro is seasoned with a tantalizing combination of earthy annato, creamy avocado chunks, and crumbles of queso fresco.

Like many South American countries, Ecuadorians love empanadas. Savory versions include empanada verde, which are made from plantains, mashed until elastic and pliable enough to use as a wrapper. I can’t even begin to imagine how long this process must take. Sweet empanadas are typically filled with fruit and use a standard dough wrapper.

In Ecuador there are two growing seasons for apples, so they not only make their way into empanadas [Recipe], but into fritters and many other treats. Walk through bustling markets and you’ll certainly see neat rows of brightly colored candy apples.

Eggs dishes are common for breakfast, lunch and dinner but they aren’t plain-Jane. Instead, Ecuadorians do fun things like whisking cornmeal or even hominy in with eggs, as in the Mote Pillo. The combination is addictive, especially with a sprinkle of cheese and chives or green onion [Recipe].

Meals can be accompanied by aji, a table condiment, or a warm peanut/annato salsa [Recipe]– great with chicken, beef, and pork… or Guinea Pig.

Photos by Seattle Skier, Martini, KrostoAldo Barba, and Vilseskogen. (CC)


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  2. Collette Lemons says

    The pictures make me want to go there. But I can’t wait to see what recipes you choose.

  3. Simone says

    Not to forget all the yummy seafood from the coast… ceviche and encebollado, hmmmmmmmmm!!!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Simone, you are so right! How could I leave all that goodness out?! I read that Ecuadorians actually “cook’ their ceviche a little bit – do you know anything about this (beyond just the citrus) – is there any truth to it?

      • Simone says

        Yes, you’re right… Our favorite is Ceviche de Camaron (Shrimp ceviche) and the shrimp actually do get cooked and some of the ‘broth” is used to make up the liquid in the ceviche, so it’s not as acid as i.e. peruvian ceviche. here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.equaguia.com/gastronomia/cevichedecamaron.html ; unfortunately it’s in Spanish… but that’s how we make it at home… yummmmm

  4. Weird – I never knew where the Galapagos Islands were and never thought to look it up. Thanks for doing my homework for me!

  5. Brian S. says

    As Simone says, there are differences between coastal and mountain Ecuador. I think both regions love hearty soups. On the coast, that soup probably has seafood. I once had a wonderful seafood casserole in an NY Ecuadorian restaurant, in a rich and creamy sauce. Some soups are thicker than others. Just as Eskimos are reputed to have lots of words for snow, South Americans have lots of words for soup, depending on whether it is a thin broth or a thick stew: chupe, caldo, sopa, etc Try to find a guinea pig. It’s a mountain speciality. But I think in the hills they like any kind of roast meat (Hornado). And instead of empanadas, why not try their famous mountain equivalent, llapingachos? Gotta love that name.

    • Sasha Martin says

      If only I could try everything… ! I am interested to try the llapingachos – they are really more like pancakes/patties … I almost put them on the menu… I was torn. You’ll just have to wait and see what I chose instead. 🙂

  6. Caitlin says

    There is a relatively new restaurant in Tulsa, Mia Tierra, that serves (apparently) very authentic South American food. They even have a grocery store. It is in a little strip at 81st and Sheridan. I would highly suggest going to do some “research.” Plus, the people that work there are extremely knowledgeable about the food.

    Here is their facebook page (according to Google maps, they don’t exist): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Restaurant-Mi-Tierra/296259124642

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