Traditional Ecuadorian food can be one of the best gastronomic experiences to remember. No jokes.
In fact, the first time I visited Ecuador in 2014, I was truly impressed! Ecuador has not only the best chocolate in the world, a wide variety of fruits (only bananas count 300+ types!), and a long list of delicious dishes.
It’s a paradise for a foodie, really!
But how does traditional Ecuadorian food really look like?
In this article, I’m putting together 8 typical staple-dishes that I’ve tried myself and that I definitely wouldn’t mind trying again ? Here you go:
Traditional Ecuadorian Food
You MUST Try
1. Platano Asado/Maduro
A plantain (or platano in Spanish) is an unripe type of banana and a staple food in the Ecuadorian menu. Unlike the yellow, sweet soft version of the banana we know, plantain is green and hard and should never be eaten raw.
There are basically two types of it — platano verde or platano maduro. The maduro is baked, stuffed with cheese and has a wonderfully sweet and savoury taste. This is the most typical Ecuadorian food, usually served as a snack or an appetizer.
Patacones (also known as tostones) are also made from plantains. The difference is that, instead of baking the thing you fry it — twice, in fact. With a ferocious kitchen mallet beating involved in between.
Also served as a snack, patacones should be cripsy on the outside, slighly soft in the inside, and go exceptionally well with a bit of salt and cheese on top.
Photo by: Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times. Source: here
If you go to any country in South America, ceviche will almost always be on the menu. Ecuador is no exception. The country is seriously in love with ceviche, which numbers dozens of different recipes.
There are ceviches with fish, there are ceviches with crabs. There are ceviches with clams, octopus, shrimps, shellfish, and even a mix with all of it together, marinated in lemon or lime juice and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Traditionally served with patacones and popcorn, ceviche is the ultimate Ecuadorian food you should try!
4. Pan de Yuca
Yuca (also called manioc), is an authentic South American plant with thick roots that resemble those of a potato. Pan de yuca is literally bread made from yuca (pan actually means bread).
Pan de yuca is typically a bit gluey and has an interesting cheesy taste. In Ecuador, you can often find it served with frozen yoghurt: a combination that has no real explanation but somehow still works.
Photo by: Jose Garces. Source: here
Mmm, llapingacho… where to even start?
Basically, it’s like potato cakes filled with cheese and topped with peanut sauce. (Can be quite heavy on your stomach!)
Usually served with sausage, salad, LOTS of rice and an egg on top.
6. Dulce de tres leches
Lighter than air, dulce de tres leches is the opposite of llapingacho. It also belongs to the desserts’ category on the traditional Ecuadorian menu.
Dulce de tres leches is a soft milky substance of “sweetness” (dulce), made from three different types of milk: fresh, pasteurized, and condensed. Delish!
Tender steamed corn stuffed with cheese: that’s humitas!
Taking it roots back to pre-Hispanic times, humitas is a traditional dish that is a must on any Christmas table in Ecuador. It can, however, be found in other countries in Latin America, such as Peru or Chile, for instance.
Photo by: Francisco Vasquez Neira. Source: here
8. Bolon de verde (typical Ecuadorian food)
If you thought there weren’t enough heavy dishes made of plantain in Ecuador, well, you were wrong!
Bolon is the heaviest Ecuadorian meal I’ve tried. Everybody eats bolon, everybody worships bolon, and the best family moments in Ecuadorian society are centred around bolon lol.
In a nutshell, bolon is a huge round lump of plantain, cheese and pork. It looks… interesting, but then again, who said the best-tasting food always has to look great?
Photo by: @carmencristina. Source: here
An original pork dish from the Sierra region (Quito, Loja, etc), fritada is one of the most popular dishes in Ecuador.
It’s full name is “fritada de chancho”, which literally translates as “pork fry-up”. According to the traditional recipe, pork is cooked in water and orange juice until the water is reduced and the meet is browed in its own fat. Fritada is quite greasy and heavy — but absolutely delicious!
Image by: Demos la vuelta al día. Source: here
Ever eaten cow’s stomach before?
If you’re curious, try guatita, Ecuador’s national dish.
Guatita is a stew from pieces of tripe (cow’s stomach, essentially). The tripe is cleaned in a lemon-juice brine, and then cooked for a long time until the meat gets tender.
Traditionally, it’s served hot and accompanied by potatoes and peanut sauce.
Traditionally, uuatita is also considered to be an acquired taste. ?
It’s strong and heavy, and is more like Ecuadorian food for hangover!
Image by: El Universo. Source: here
Another national dish on the list is encebollado.
In contrast to Frieda, which comes from one region but is eaten all over Ecuador, encebollado is known all over Ecuador but is mostly eaten in one reagin: the coast.
Essentially, encebollado is a fish stew, traditionally coming with boiled yuca, picked red onion rings and a spicy, peppery dressing. Commonly prepared with albacore, this stew can nevertheless be made with tuna or billfish, too.
Photo by: El Universo. Source: here