Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude, and associated agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountainous regions, and are served with a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods, especially rice, corn, and potatoes.
A popular street food in mountainous regions is hornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig. Some examples of Ecuadorian cuisine in general include patacones (unripe plantains fried in oil, mashed up, and then refried), llapingachos (a pan-seared potato ball), and seco de chivo (a type of stew made from goat).
A wide variety of fresh fruit is available, particularly at lower altitudes, including granadilla, passion fruit, naranjilla, several types of banana,uvilla, taxo and tree tomato.
By these three recipes,we bring the exotic tastes of Ecuador closer to you.
Green Plantain and Cheese Patties (Empanadas de Verde)
Empanadas de Verde are a staple in Ecuador and a big part of Ecuadorian cuisine, and they are satisfying breakfast or mid-day snack. Boiled green plantains are mashed with their own starchy cooking liquid and a bit of butter and salt for a delicious, and naturally gluten-free dough.
Although you can use a variety of filings, a bit of melty queso fresco is a perfect choice. And no special equipment is needed to fry these up, our skillet will do the trick.
- 6 green plantains, peeled and cut into thirds
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
- kosher salt, to taste
- vegetable oil(for frying)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
- Put the plantains in a large non-stick pot and cover with cold water
- Bring the water to a boil and cook the plantains on medium heat until soft, about 20 minutes
- Transfer the cooked plantains to a large bowl. Reserve the water
- With a potato masher, begin mashing the plantains, and while they are still hot, add the unsalted butter.
- Season with salt
- Gradually add up to 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid to the plantains, mashing, until the mixture achieves a pureed consistency, with only a few small chunks. The mixture will be sticky to the touch, but cohesive enough to handle.
- Shape the mixture into patties about the size of the palm of your hands
- Make a dent in the middle and add some crumbled queso fresco
- Close the patties, ensuring the cheese stays inside
- In a large skillet, heat up about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Fry the patties, in batches using more oil as needed, until both sides are golden brown
- The empanadas will have a hard crust on the outside, and should make a noise when tapped with a fork
- Place the fried patties on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them until warm through and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
- Serve with hot coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack
Sweet Plantain Smoothie (Chucula)
Chucula is a creamy Ecuadorian dessert made from ripe plantains, milk and a dash of cinnamon and vanilla. This dessert is so versatile it can be served as a warm or cold smoothie or a slightly thicker pudding studded with salty crumbled cheese.
- 5 very ripe plantains, peeled and halved
- 4 to 5 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ounce salty queso fresco, crumbled (for pudding-like chucula)
- In a non-stick stock pot, add the plantains and 4 cups of water
- Bring the water to a boil and cook the plantains over medium heat until soft
- Remove the plantains from the heat (most of the water should evaporate), and set aside
- For the smoothie version: In a blender, combine the cooked plantains and any remaining liquid, 5 cups of milk, the sugar, the cinnamon and the vanilla extract
- Blend until incorporated
- Chill and serve cold or pour the mixture back in the stock pot and warm on medium heat and serve warm
For the pudding version
- In a blender, combine the cooked plantains and any remaining liquid, 4 cups of milk, the sugar, the cinnamon and the vanilla extract.
- Blend until incorporated
- Pour the mixture back into the non-stick stock pot, and warm up on medium heat
- Add the crumbled salty cheese to the mixture and stir consistently so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
- The cheese will soften to a curd-like consistency
- Serve warm or cold, garnished with extra crumbled queso fresco
Morocho(Ecuadorian Spiced Corn Pudding Drink)
Morocho, also called morocho dulce, is a thick sweet drink made with morocho corn, milk, cinnamon, sugar and raisins. Morocho is a classic Ecuadorian comfort drink and is primarily sold on the streets or at markets. The consistency is similar to a pudding milkshake and you can usually eat it with a spoon.
Morocho corn is a type of dried cracked hominy corn that you can now find in Latin grocery stores. This type of corn is also used to make a delicious soup called sopa de morocho and the famous empanadas de morocho.
Morocho is a thick sweet drink made with morocho corn, milk, cinnamon, sugar and raisins.
- 14 oz of cracked morocho corn or dried cracked white hominy corn, about 2 cups
- 6 cups of water to soak
- ~8 cups or 2 liters of milk
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ – ½ cup sugar or grated panela brown sugar, adjust to taste
- ½ cup raisins, optional
- Ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- Soak the morocho corn overnight in 6 cups of water
- Place the morocho corn, cinnamon sticks, and the 8 cups of milk in a pot
- Cook on low temperature until the corn gets very soft and tender, about 3 hours. Stir every once in a while to keep the corn from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir more frequently during the last 30 minutes.
- Add the sugar and the raisins. Cook for another 15-30 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Serve warm and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top
- Serve:6-8 people
This is only small portion of what tasteful Ecuadorian cuisine can offer. Trying and experimenting with foods from different cultures makes our weekly menu much more interesting and flavorful.