Ecuadorian cuisine is known for its innumerable potato varieties, the spicy heat of the ají pepper and the soft crackle of roasting guinea pig. The food is solid, healthy, tasty and can be cooked easily in kitchens around the world. Popular dishes are ceviche, llapingachos, locro (potato soup) and humitas, Incan-style tamales.
As hinted by its name, the country of Ecuador lies on either side of the equator along the northwestern coast of South America. Its neighbor in the south and east is Peru, and it shares a border with Colombia in the north. Ecuador has a long Pacific coast, a mountainous central region and tropical lowlands in the Amazon interior.
The food of Ecuador offers a mix of two worlds. There is a deep foundation of Incan heritage mixed together with the influence of Old World cuisine. More typically Incan cuisine is concentrated in the mountainous inland areas and the diet is based on meat, rice and potatoes. Nearer the coast, the diet is centered around fish, seafood and plantains.
(Ecuadorian, Peruvian toasted corn snack)
Cancha, a popular snack in Peru and Ecuador, is made with a special type of large-kerneled corn called maíz chulpe or maíz cancha chulpe. The dried kernels are tossed with oil and toasted in a hot skillet until they are browned and puffed. A simple sprinkling of salt and the cancha is ready to eat. Cancha is often served with ceviche or a cold beer. Read more »
(Ecuadorian, Mexican pickled red onions)
Pickled red onions are the perfect condiment for all kinds of dishes. In Ecuador, these pickles with the purple hue are at their simplest, tossed with lime juice and a pinch of salt and sprinkled over ceviche. Yucatecan-style cebollas encurtidas are more elaborately seasoned and are an essential topping for cochinita pibil. They're also perfect on top of a burger. Sometimes called cebollas en escabeche. Read more »
(Latin citrus-marinated seafood)
Ceviche is believed to have originated in Peru or Ecuador in Inca times. The seafood was originally marinated in chicha, a fermented corn beverage. Spanish conquerors brought with them citrus trees and the juice of the lemon, lime and Seville orange was substituted. Over time, ceviche became popular throughout Latin America, and each country, locale and cevichería supplies its own twist on the basic recipe. Read more »
(Ecuadoran oatmeal beverage)
Cuáker is a popular and healthy children's drink in Ecuador. Its name is the Spanish version of the name of the company most famous for selling oats and oatmeal. Beverages based on oats are popular throughout Central and South America. Read more »
(Ecuadorian potato-cheese patties)
Llapingachos (yah-peen-GAH-chos) are a popular side dish in the highlands of Ecuador. They are often served with fried eggs and a simple salad of lettuce, tomato and avocado. Sometimes sausages and a side of rice are added to make a full and typically Ecuadorian meal. Read more »
(Ecuadoran, Peruvian potato-cheese soup)
Locro is a nourishing potato-cheese soup popular in Ecuador and Peru. A soup with the same name is found in Argentina, but Argentine locro is a vegetable and meat stew. Read more »
(Ecuadorian stuffed and fried cassava balls)
Muchines de yuca are tasty cassava balls with a crunchy outside protecting a soft, savory filling. Serve as an appetizer or as a side dish topped with little ají hot pepper sauce. Read more »
(South American fried plantains; see Tostones recipe)
Secos are thick Ecuadorian stews, usually served with yellow rice and fried plantains. Seco de chivo is goat stew and is special occasion food in Ecuador. Traditionally, seco de chivo was made with chicha, a fermented corn beverage favored by the Incas. Nowadays beer is more common. Tart fruit juices are often added as well for added flavor and to offset any gaminess. Read more »