International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Encebollado Ecuatoriano

Encebollado Ecuatoriano (Ecuadorian fish and onion stew)

(Ecuadorian fish and onion stew)

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Clumsily translated, encebollado means "onioned." In this fresh fish stew from Ecuador, it refers to the pleasant tang of pickled onions that are used as a condiment.

Enjoyed along Ecuador's long Pacific coast, and usually made with tuna, encebollado can be eaten at any time of the day. But because it is considered an excellent hangover cure, it is enjoyed particularly as a rejuvenating breakfast.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Red onion, thinly sliced -- 1
  • Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped -- 2
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
  • Paprika -- 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon
  • Stock or water -- 8 cups
  • Yuca root (cassava), peeled and cut into cubes (see notes) -- 1 pound
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Tuna or other firm, fresh fish, cut into chunks -- 2 pounds
  • Cebollas encurtidas (pickled onions) -- 1 recipe

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the onion and saute until wilted and translucent.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, paprika and cumin and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Add the water or stock, yuca and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the yuca is almost cooked through.
  4. Stir in the fish and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the fish and yuca are both cooked through.
  5. Adjust seasoning, then serve in soup bowls. Each diner garnishes his or her bowl with cebollas encurtidas to their taste and with chifles (plantain chips), cancha (corn nuts), or popcorn (yes! popcorn). Serve with lime wedges or hot pepper sauce for seasoning.

Encebollado Notes and Variations

  • Fish: Fresh tuna is the fish most commonly used in encebollado, but you can use other firm-fleshed fish too. Some cooks take a shortcut and by using canned tuna.
  • Yuca: Yuca should be peeled well to remove any pinkish, purplish layer under the thick brown skin. This layer contains a sap that can be irritating to the skin and the mouth. There is also a stringy core to yuca root that should be cut off the chunks as well. Some cooks boil the yuca separately, then remove the stringy core. The cooked yuca is then stirred into the encebollado with the fish.
  • Other Additions: Try sauteing some chopped celery or bell peppers with the onions. Minced garlic is a nice addition too. Stir in a bit of chopped mint at the end for a refreshing layer of flavor. Chopped avocado is tasty as a garnish too.

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