Ecuador’s cuisine is abundant and diverse. Despite the fact that Ecuador is a small country in size, it possess huge variety in terms of gastronomy since it has four regions: coast, highlands, Amazon and Galapagos. In this article, we want to tell you a little bit about some traditional dishes, as much from the highlands as the Ecuadorian coast, with the hope that when you visit the country you won’t hesitate to get involved in the experience of tasting the incomparable flavors of Ecuador’s traditional foods.
Traditional foods of the Ecuadorian highlands
In Ecuador’s highlands, you can find a huge diversity of traditional cuisine, such as soups, main dishes, and desserts. The traditional dishes of the highlands are pork and beef-based, combined with potatoes and corn grains, among other things. These dishes are of high quality and generally require a lot of preparation time. We want to tell you a little bit about some of the traditional dishes and invite you try them during your stay in Ecuador’s highlands.
Locro de papa (Potato Stew)
One of the most delicious dishes in Ecuadorian gastronomy is, without a doubt, “locro de papas” (potato stew), a delicious potato stew that may contain cheese and rinds, and which is served along with avocado and toasted corn. It has a creamy consistency and its incomparable flavor makes this soup a true delicacy that should be sampled if you find yourself visiting Ecuador. In fact, if it doesn’t have cheese or rinds in it, it’s a great vegetarian option or a healthy vegan alternative.
If you would like to experience preparing the classic cheese stew with avocado, with native ingredients like quinoa, toasted corn, yuyos (aromatic Andean herbs), seeds, among others; as well as the delicious chile ground in natural volcanic rock, these activities are carried out with clients under the supervision of the chef of the restaurant Galería Café de Galería Ecuador.
Cuy asado (Roasted Guinea Pig)
If you find yourself visiting Ecuador, we recommend that you try delicious roasted guinea pig. Guinea pig, also known as “conejillo de indias” or “cobaya”, is a food product that is consumed in Andean countries. In fact, dishes like roasted cuy, and cuy stew are part of Ecuadorian patrimonial cuisine. Roasted cuy is accompanied with potatoes and/or corn, salsa, and chile. Lots of people may feel wary of trying this dish. However, it’s a delicious traditional plate that doesn’t tend to disappoint. Dare to try roasted cuy, whether it is in a market or restaurant! It’s an experience that we recommend for you if you find yourself in Ecuador.
Llapingachos (Fried potato pancakes)
Llapingachos are fried tortillas made with boiled potatoes and filled with cheese, that tend to be bathed in a delicious peanut sauce, with chorizo, fried egg, salad, and avocado. This is one of the most enjoyed dishes by foreign tourists, so we recommend that you try it while you are there.
Churrasco ecuatoriano (Ecuadorian grilled meat)
Churrasco has its particularities in each nation in which it is prepared, and Ecuadorian churrasco also has its own style as well. Ecuadorian style churrasco is a delicious dish of beef accompanied by white rice, fried eggs, french fries, salad and avocado. It is very easy to find on a national level, and given that it is a generously served place it can be eaten between two people.
Mote pillo (Hominy and scrambled eggs)
Mote pillo is a traditional dish in Ecuadorian cuisine and it is made with mote (cooked mature corn) and egg. Don’t forget to read our note about it here: Mote, the indispensable ingredient of Cuenca gastronomy. We tell you a little bit about the delicious dishes that are widely enjoyed in the Azuay and Cañar provinces, in the highlands of Ecuador, and how they use this grain as a principal ingredient. In the city of Quito, you can enjoy the richness of Ecuadorian cuisine in infinite restaurants and markets. You won’t regret it!
Traditional foods of the Ecuadorian coast
Ecuadorian cuisine is very diverse despite its small size. If you decide to explore the richness of the Ecuadorian kitchen, you must visit the coastal region and taste the dishes that are prepared there. In the coastal Ecuadorian cuisine, ingredients that tend to be used are seafood, coconut, green plantains, and peanuts, among others. Even though the dishes that we are going to describe to you are traditional to the coast, they are so popular and in high demand that they can be found in any part of the national territory.
Ceviche de camarón (raw shrimp cocktail)
Shrimp ceviche or cebiche is one of the most traditional dishes in Ecuador, especially on the coast of the country. Though shrimp ceviche is very popular since in Ecuador the shrimp is of the highest quality, also famous are Conch, fish and other seafood ceviches are also very famous. Though seafood ceviche is the most in-demand, there are some that prepare them with beans, palm hearts, mushrooms, among other things, with the hope of converting it into a great vegetarian option.
In the highlands just as on the coast, it is prepared in different ways, and one of the particularities is that the shrimp is cooked, and not only marinated in lemon. Don’t hesitate to try this delicious and light dish, which goes very well with a delicious chile and a nice cold national beer, as well as a garnish of chifles (thin strips of fried green plantains), patacones (flattened slices of fried green plantains), canguil (popcorn) or tostado (toasted corn).
Bolones de verde (stuffed green plantain dumplings)
You can’t miss the experience of eating a delicious bolón de verde whether it is filled with cheese, chicharron (deep fried pork), or both. The bolón de verde is prepared with green plantains which are cooked and smashed until they form a dough, which can be filled with cheese, fried pork, among other things. After that, this dough is chilled, baked or fried. Generally, the bolones tend to be eaten for breakfast although they are so delicious that they can be part of a dinner or served as sides for other dishes. The bolones tend to be accompanied with dried meat, fried or scrambled egg, and of course, a cup of coffee.
Encebollado (Albacore vegetable soup)
Encebollado is a plate that is commonly cooked to alleviate a hangover and is also called chuchaqui in Ecuador. Encebollado is a fish-based (albacore) broth, which also contains yuca, tomato, onion, pepper, and other ingredients. This plate tends to be served with popcorn, chifles (thin strips of fried green plantain), tostado (toasted corn) or bread. You can’t miss this traditional dish during your stay in the country.
Encocado de pescado (Fish with coconut sauce)
This is a traditional dish from the Esmeraldas province, on the Ecuadorian coast. It is a coconut and fish based dish (although it can also contain other seafood) and is served with white rice, patacones (flattened slices of fried green plantain) or maduro frito (fried ripe plantain). This plate tends to be prepared with corvina, however, it can be prepared with other types of fish. You will simply love this dish!
We can’t list all of the traditional dishes of Ecuador here, however, we leave you with this list so that you can start your work of enjoying a part of Ecuadorian cuisine.