Chefs love traveling to Ecuador, and it’s easy to see why. Ecuadorian food is still linked to indigenous traditions, but has evolved to include innovative ingredients and presentations. This country’s cuisine is the ultimate fusion food. Ecuador is home to native, exotic fruits you won’t find anywhere else. Recipes include corn-based dishes, and, of course, tons of enthusiasm: Ecuadorians are a friendly, open people – and they love chatting with visitors.
Trying new food is the perfect excuse to travel. See what brings chefs and culinary experts from all over the world to Ecuador: these are the main dishes you should sample on your next trip to Ecuador.
Locro in Quito
Quito might not stay cold all year long, but this traditional dish is just the thing for cold days and nights. Some people call it “poor people’s stew” because of the colorful mixture of ingredients, such as potatoes, beans, and corn. The most popular version of this recipe is called Yahuarlocro and it includes a lot of meat.
Pro-tip: after sampling locro in Quito, as you head to Cotopaxi, look for Salcedo ice cream served on a stick. Naranjilla, coconut, or taxo are some of the many flavors you can try!
Maito in Tena
Eating fish is never the same after you’ve tasted it wrapped in bijao leaves. At first glance, this dish looks like a tamale (pictured at the top of this article). Yet, it’s something totally different.
All that’s needed to make maito extra special is some salt. The leaves will do the rest of the work in seasoning this flavorful dish, which is roasted over fire. Pair your maito with a local drink. Try chicha, the most traditional liquor. It’s made up of fermented yucca, and can have up to 8% alcohol.
If you’re a bit more daring and looking to try something exotic, ask for chontacuros. Mexico isn’t the only place you can eat bugs, but be warned: the ones in Tena Ecuador will be still moving before you roast them on a stick over a barbecue. Ask for a dash of salt to turn them into a delicious snack.
Ceviche and bolón in Montañita
Plantain, or plátano, is a fruit used for breakfast, lunch or dinner in South America. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is: it’s always time for plátano.
The base for bolón is a green plantain dough, filled with grated cheese, meat, or seafood. It’s a delicious fried ball that will keep you coming back for more.
Because Montañita is on the Pacific coast, you should try several kinds of ceviche. For this dish, the raw fish or seafood is cut in short pieces and mixed with lemon, onion, and sweet pepper. It’s the perfect snack for a hot day in front of the sea.
Mote in Cuenca
Mote is, without a doubt, the most popular ingredient in the kitchens of Cuenca. It’s white, peeled, and processed corn that can be used as an appetizer, a main dish or even a dessert. Locally, mote is known as “the corn from the Gods” because it’s filled with nutrients. It’s incorporated into a long list of local recipes that includes tortillas, sweets, drinks, and even soups. The most popular version of mote is served as an appetizer – just like peanuts. Try it out and you’ll never forget it!
Llapingacho in Baños
Llapin what? In Kichwa language, “llapi” means “puree”, while “gacho” comes from “potato”. Llapingacho is a dish of mashed potato croquettes made with cheese and achiote. It’s usually served with a spicy pork sausage called chorizo ambateño, rice, fried eggs, and, sometimes, an avocado salad.This colorful plate will have you coming back for seconds and thirds!
If you’re looking for something sweet to accompany llapingacho, try a sugar cane drink or a cajeta (soft toffee) made from sugar cane syrup.
Start with these dishes as you travel through the flavors and ingredients of Baños‘ delicious cuisine. I suggest you try everything! At the end of the day, there will be more things you’ll regret not trying. See what this amazing country has to offer, starting at the end of your fork.
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