Let’s accept the truth, we all LOVE FOOD and always include good restaurants and must-try dishes in our bucket list. Every country has its own traditional flavours, interesting mixes of ingredients, and ways to prepare local meals. South America is already known for its rich culture and variety of exotic fruits and vegetables. But! What makes Ecuador stand out from other countries is its perfect geographical location. Situated right on the equator, Ecuador is blessed with all year round delicious fruits and vegetables that grow under the generous sun. With these enriched ingredients, local people create plates that make the mouth water! So let’s go over 5 Ecuadorian food favourites you can try all around the country.
Plantains are larger types of bananas that need to be cooked before consuming. Interesting fact is that they last pretty long. Growing initially green, it takes about three to four weeks before they turn yellow (locals call it Maduro) and it gives broad possibilities for the ways to cook it: fried, boiled, baked and steamed. When they are fried green they are crispy as chips and called Chifles. People in Ecuador also enjoy Patacones, this is when a green plantain is fried twice. You can see fried plantains in every corner of Ecuador's streets and there is a reason for that! Ecuador is the leading country in the world that exports the largest number of bananas and plantains that grow abundantly in the tropics. Not only popular as street food, they are appreciated by local restaurants and served as a side with a meal, in the soup and even in bakeries.
When yellow plantains are fried, they taste mushy and sweet, almost like a dessert. Local people love to make a cut in the middle of plantain and melt a cheese inside, Ecuadorian hot dog I would say!
Ceviche is a cold appetizer marinated with raw fish or seafood famous all around South America. However, no one else prepares it quite like the Ecuadorians. Ceviche can be made in several forms, but its main fillings will always be shrimp, crab, oyster, octopus, fish, lobster, or a mix of one or more of those. Thanks to the long Ecuador coastline, the ceviche is always fresh and rich in vitamins. To complement the dish, ceviche is spiked with lime and orange juice, finely chopped red onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Crunchy plantains (Chifles), popcorn, and toasted corn are often consumed as toppings.
Unlike in other countries like Peru, Ecuadorians prefer to cook the fish, which gives a ceviche a better consistency and flavour.
Bolon de verde
A Bolon is another innovative way to cook green plantains in Ecuador. As you can notice the whole Ecuadorian cuisine is based around plantains. Locals just like to play with recipes. In the Bolon, green plantains are cooked and smashed, almost like a puree which can be mixed with cheese or cilantro. For me, it was very hard to recognize what the Bolon was made of when I first tried it. I would guess it was potatoes but never imagined green plantains! Anyways, it was very tasty and its texture is my favourite. On the coast of Ecuador, Bolon is very popular. People like to keep a traditional breakfast: Bolon, cheese, fried eggs, and dark coffee.
Encebollado is probably Ecuador’s most famous soup for hangover cure, but people also like to enjoy it at any time of the day. This dish is highly appreciated by locals and many families have their own secret recipe. On the coast especially, Encebollado is consumed the most. So what are the main ingredients? Basically, it is a stew made with yucca and local fish called Albacora (white tuna fish), cooked in a consistent broth filled with red onions, cilantro and mild spices. The Ecuadorians like extra toppings and sides, the soup comes with rice, toasted corn or plantain chips. What gives the soup a special taste is the juice of the lime that is squeezed fresh.
If you decide to start your journey in the Andes of Ecuador, then you should first visit the local food market where locals serve grilled guinea pigs. In Ecuador, they are considered a fine Andean delicacy, often served on special events. The taste more or less resembles a duck or rabbit and it is finger-licking good! I have seen how locals keep them in their gardens, taking great care of the food they eat. People in Ecuador call it Cuy, and if you are in the mountains, don't miss a chance to try the specialty of this area! Once you step out, it can be pretty challenging to find Cuys for lunch.
I love and respect Ecuadorian Cuisine because local people take advantage of food that grows abundantly in the country. It is amazing how plantains can be cooked in so many different ways and have various tastes. Seafood, exotic fruits, vegetables, pretty much everything can be found in this little paradise! Have you already added these meals to your bucket list?!
Written by Nargiza Erkinova