Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude, and associated agricultural conditions. Beef, chicken, and seafood are popular in the coastal regions and are typically served with carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice accompanied with lentils, pasta, or plantain. Whereas in the mountainous regions pork, chicken, beef and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are often served with rice, corn, or potatoes. A popular street food in mountainous regions is hornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig. Some examples of Ecuadorian cuisine in general include patacones (unripe plantains fried in oil, mashed up, and then refried), llapingachos (a pan-seared potato ball), and seco de chivo (a type of stew made from goat). A wide variety of fresh fruit is available, particularly at lower altitudes, including granadilla, passionfruit, naranjilla, several types of banana, uvilla, taxo, and tree tomato.
The food is somewhat different in the southern mountainous areas, featuring typical Loja food such as repe, a soup prepared with green bananas; cecina, roasted pork; and miel con quesillo, or “cuajada“, as dessert. In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. The starchy root is peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes. Across the nation it’s also used as a bread, pan de yuca which is analogous to the Brazilian pão de queijo and its often consumed alongside different types of drinkable yogurt. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree-grapes, and peach-palms.
Ecuadorian National Dishes
Encebollado (Spanish: cooked with onions) is a fish stew from Ecuador, where it is regarded as a national dish. Although known throughout Ecuador, the dish is most popular in the country’s coastal region. It is served with boiled cassava and pickled red onion rings. A dressing of onion is prepared with fresh tomato and spices such as pepper or coriander leaves. It is commonly prepared with albacore, but tuna, billfish, or bonito may also be used. It may be served with ripe avocado.
Its possible origins come from the Basque dish by the name of marmitako.
Encebollado is usually served with banana chips, plantains, or bread as side dishes. It may be garnished with lime juice and chili sauce. People in Ecuador eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Restaurants that sell only this dish start serving it in the early morning.
Fritada is a typical dish in Ecuadorian cuisine. Its main ingredient is fried pork. It is a traditional dish, and its origins date back to the colonial era, to the beginning of the 19th century. The pork is cooked in boiling water with various spices and then is fried with pork fat in a brass pan over flames. It is generally served with Llapingacho or whole boiled potatoes, mote or cooked corn, pickled onions and tomato, and fried ripe plantains. It may also be accompanied by cooked fava beans or mellocos, though mellocos are rather uncommon.
Guatitas ([little] guts or [little] bellies, from Spanish: Guata; “Gut/Belly”), or guatitas criollas, is a popular dish in Chile and in Ecuador, where it is considered a national dish. It is essentially a stew whose main ingredient is pieces of tripe (cow stomach), known locally as “guatitas”. The tripe is often cleaned several times in a lemon-juice brine, after which it is cooked for a long time until the meat is tender. Then it is allowed to cool and finely chopped. There are various vegetarian versions of the dish in which wheat gluten is substituted for tripe. Other variations use strong-tasting fish such as tuna. The traditional Ecuadorian recipe is served hot and accompanied by potatoes and a peanut sauce.
The dish is often considered an acquired taste. Because of its strong taste, it is sometimes served in small quantities.
In Ecuador, it is believed that guatita helps relieve hangover symptoms. For this reason, it is often served by restaurants early on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Ceviche, also cebiche, seviche, or sebiche is a seafood dish originating in Peru typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt and coriander. Because the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared and consumed fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavours, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or cooking banana. The dish is popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America. Though the origin of ceviche is hotly debated, in Peru it is considered a national dish.
Though archeological records suggest that something resembling ceviche may have been consumed in Peru nearly two thousand years ago, some historians believe the predecessor to the dish was brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada, who accompanied the Spanish conquistadors and colonizers, and this dish eventually evolved into what is now considered ceviche. Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio further explains that the dominant position Lima held through four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region, and in time they became a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles.
Ceviche is now a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas, reaching the United States in the 1980s. The greatest variety of ceviches are found in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Peru; but other distinctly unique styles can also be found in coastal Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, the United States, Mexico, Panama, and several other nations.