August 05, 2017

Guide to the Best Ecuadorian Food and Snack Recipes

Ecuadorian food boasts a variety of tasty dishes and meals, however, if you are expecting spicy or overly rich dishes then the Ecuador cuisine might not be it. However with that said, Ecuadorian cuisine is much more than what a typical tourist may try at a traditional Ecuador lunch of $2.50. 

If you want a broader picture of the Ecuadorian cuisine, you must go beyond the typical almuerzo and explore the whole Ecuador culture of foods. If you want to view this guide in video, click here or view it at the end of this guide.

The typical Ecuador lunch starts with a delicious soup and fresh fruit juice. The main lunch meal usually centers around a meat or fish and a cold vegetable salad which is served with a mound of rice; typically the meal is served with a delicious Ecuador sauce called aji.

We feel blessed to have experienced the Ecuador food culture over the years. Most of the foods in this guide we have had the pleasure of eating; in the recipe section, we share some Ecuador famous food that we have prepared in our own kitchen or have been honored to have an Ecuadorian friend prepare for us in which we now share all of these wonderful Ecuador dishes with you in this guide.

Ecuadorian lunch is the biggest meal of the day served between 1:00 thru 3:00 and is centered around entertaining and socializing with family and friends, which is a beautiful aspect of family life still alive in Ecuador.

Are you ready to get started? Let’s tantalize our palate with some Ecuadorian food and snack recipes.

                    Ecuador Lunches (Almuerzos)
Llapingacho - This Andean dish includes sausage or hot dog
potato cake, a vegetable, rice and fried egg.
Estofado de Pollo - Andean chicken stew.
The rice is topped off with aji sauce.


Ecuadorian Restaurant dish called Corvina frita 
con lentejas.  Fried corvina with lentils



Coastal Atacames Ecuador lunch made up of
Pescado frito con menestra y patacones
fried fish, beans and fried green plantains.

Next we're going to talk about two traditional Ecuadorian foods that are both very popular with the locals as well as visitors.


Another popular Ecuador famous food is Shrimp Ceviche. This seafood dish is eaten on the coastal regions as well as in the Andes Mountains. It costs a bit more than your typical Ecuadorian lunch and is mainly eaten on the weekends or special occasions. 

You wouldn't believe how fast the Ecuadorian restaurants fill up on the weekends with families and friends looking for a tasty ceviche or other seafood dish.

What exactly is ceviche?  Ceviche is made up of raw fish or seafood cut into small pieces and marinated in a prepared lemon or sour orange juice, chopped onion, salt, pepper and cilantro. It is a typical dish that originated in South America. Below is the typical Ecuadorian ceviche found in restaurants around the country.

Ceviche Camarones - Shrimp Ceviche
Next, we come to the National Dish of Ecuador which happens to be Encebollado; in English that translates to fish soup or stew; it is usually made up of fresh boiled tuna (not canned tuna fish) and lots of purple onion. 

This delicious soup originated as a coastal Ecuador dish but is widely eaten in the mountain ranges of Ecuador too. Ironically, the best encebollado we've had the pleasure to try was in Cuenca Ecuador. 

What ingredients make up fish stew of Ecuador? Encebollado is made up of tuna, yucca, onions and cilantro cooked in a light tomato base and then served with choclo (corn nuts- see below) or popcorn and sometimes fried plantain. It's a hearty meal in itself and is very flavorful!
Encebollado - Fish soup or stew.
This one is served with plantains.
Two mainstays of the Equatoriana kitchen are rice and chicken. These two foods make up several popular dishes in Ecuador. 

The first Ecuadorian meal using chicken and rice is called Seco de Pollo, you'll probably recognize this dish when looking over an Ecuadorian menu board; it is a piece or pieces of stewed chicken with potato and side of rice. The Spanish literal meaning translates into "dry chicken", however it is far from being dry; it is called this because it comes without soup. 

Seco de Pollo is usually very good and reminds me of home cooking. We recently had tasty seco de pollo in Quito Ecuador in this video.

Seco de Pollo - Stewed Chicken with rice
The second popular dish made with chicken and rice is Chaulafan which is served in many Ecuadorian restaurants but with a Chinese flair.
    Chaulafan de Pollo - Chicken Fried Rice
Chaulafan can be made with rice and vegetables, or rice with chicken, beef, pork or shellfish. Ecuadorians love this dish. Some of the Ecuador restaurants serve this with your choice of Chinese noodles or rice.

 "Special Occasion" Traditional
Ecuador Food


Let's start with Cuy which is often roasted and eaten during Ecuadorian festivals and holidays; it is regarded as a local treat. We've never tried cuy, some people say it tastes like greasy chicken, while others have said it has a flavor of its own.
CUY - Guinea Pig

Roasted PIG
Hornado

Pig roasted on a spit is another traditional food in Ecuador and usually begins roasting on the weekends. 
Hornado - Roast Pig
The pig roasting starts on Friday and keeps going until Sunday late evening when the weekend feast has finally died down.  Hornado is usually eaten with Llapingacho (see above) and corn maize (Mote). 

Traditional Soups of Ecuador

When it comes to soups Ecuador is a winner. Soup is always served before the main meal in the Ecuador lunch. We list some of our favorite soups of Ecuador with chicken soup being our absolute favorite. It's delicious and hearty. Encebollado could be classified under the soup category as well.

Caldo de Gallina or Pollo Sopa - Chicken soup

Sopa de Bolon Verde
Soup with green plantain ball
This particular sopa de bolon verde is made with green plantain stuffed with cheese. Some Ecuadorian bolons will be filled with pork or vegetables. The soup can be light like this or of a more tomato rich broth. The soup we had (shown in the photo) came with yuca and carrots. Delicious!
 
Crema de sopa de papa - Cream of Potato soup

Ecuadorians know how to make some really tasty creamy soups. This one is a very light creme of potato comfort food soup with a sprinkling of white Ecuadorian cheese called queso fresco.

Delicious cabbage soup is an all time favorite when wanting to eat something light and healthy. This particular one is served at a popular vegetarian restaurant in downtown Cuenca Ecuador.  

SOPA de REPOLLO - Cabbage Soup

We always enjoy the soups of Ecuador and what we have shown you is only a tip of the iceberg as far as Ecuadorian soups go but these are very popular ones with the locals.

Traditional Ecuadorian Snacks

Remember in Ecuador the main meal is served between 1:00 and 3:00 and so when 7:00, 8:00 in the evening rolls around, appetites begin to get worked up again. This is where the snacks and light meals make a big splash all over the region of Ecuador. We're going to show you the most popular Ecuador snacks in this guide right now, and with recipes!


Traditional Ecuadorian Empanadas

Empandas are popular Ecuadorian snacks. The school children love them for an after school snack and adults love them as an evening snack. 
Empanada
Empanadas can be made with chicken, beef, pork, or just cheese and vegetables. In the video below, we tried our cooking skills at making vegetarian empanadas in our Cuenca kitchen and now we're going to share the recipe with you. They we're easy to make and tasty to eat. To be fair we did buy the empanada wraps at the grocery store.

               

Next we have another favorite Ecuadorian snack food, as well as a "go along food" for encebollado soup and that is called Choclo.  Choclo is simply roasted corn nuts; we also make these simple little treats and love them as a afternoon snack.

CHOCLO - corn nuts
In this post you will find, complete with photos, the recipe to make your own toasted corn nuts.

One of the first snacks we ever had was in a Ecuadorian restaurant; we were wanting to try something that we had never eaten before, we ordered a humita con cafe.  An Ecuadorian corn enchilada with coffee. It had an interesting flavor, one that kept us guessing as to all of the ingredients. 

Since then this special snack has been made for us by two different Ecuadorian families, each with their own version. We love them now, especially the chicken humitas. Below is our video of our first humita experience.
      
                  
Another popular snack food in Ecuador is Papa Fritas and as we know it, French-fries. Sometimes you will find French fries paired with hotdogs and garnished with a generous portion of mayonnaise. And that snack is called Salchipapas. This snack is really popular with the grade school children in Ecuador.
PAPAS FRITAS - French-fries
Another "go along" food with most dishes in Ecuador is fried plantains or Patacones. You'll find Patacones on every almuerzo on the coast and included in many almuerzos in the Andes. 

Plantains grow abundantly here in Ecuador, along with their cousin, the banana. Our version seen in the photo are baked rather than deep fried. Recipe here. If you want them Ecuadorian style then deep fry them and you have patacones.
PLATANOS AL HORNO or PATACONES
Baked Plantains or Fried Plantains

The final snack we share with you today in this Ecuador food guide is the grilled plantain with cheese. Plátano a la parrilla con queso is great to have between meals and they are delicious. The first time we tried these we were hooked. If you do any walking in the Andes you will see the vendors with their grill carts making these lovely treats all over in Cuenca and Quito Ecuador.

                 

And finally, the last famous food we're going to tell you about is called Aji. Aji is a Ecuadorian condiment used to flavor rice, chicken, fish or simply whatever you desire. There are many different versions of aji in Ecuador. Coastal Ecuador's aji sauce is a bit spicier than the Andean aji. 

AJI en el ARROZ- Aji on rice
Most Aji sauces that you will find in the Ecuadorian restaurants will not be that spicy, if spicy at all. Just try a little bit at first to see if you will like it. For a delicious and mild aji check out this recipe made in our kitchen by an Ecuadorian who shared her version with us. 

Are you hungry yet? As you can see, Ecuador enjoys quite an assortment of foods with these being some of the most popular in the country. See our free restaurant booklet here with many more tasty Ecuadorian foods.

We hope you enjoyed this Ecuador food guide and if there is a popular food you have tried that we didn't mention here, let us know in the comments below.

Buen Proveche!

               
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