An Introduction to the Unique Foods of Ecuador

Llapingachos in Quito / Photo by Steve.

Ecuador is a diverse country in many ways — geographic regions, attractions and, of course, its unique foods.

Why is there such variety in Ecuadorian dishes?

The make-up of the country itself contributes to its varied foods. Available products differ depending on the altitude and agriculture. For example, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountains, and seafood is favored on the coast.

  • Llapingachos

Llapingachos is a traditional Andean potato patty, stuffed with cheese and cooked on a griddle until crispy and brown. Usually, llapingachos are topped with a fried egg, cheese, and avocado pieces. This Ecuadorian potato dish is also served with carne de res (beef), pork, or sausage.

  • Pan de yuca

IMG_0221The yuca root (also called tapioca, manioc or cassava) is the third-largest source of carbohydrates in the world. Yuca is used in different ways throughout Ecuador.

In the rainforest, yuca is grated and fashioned into a tortilla. In cities, fast-food outlets bake cheesy yuca bread, served in hot, bite-sized pieces. The result is toasty on the outside with a soft, chewy interior, and typically enjoyed with a kind of drinkable frozen yogurt or coffee.

  • Choclo con queso

Choclo con queso (corn with cheese) is made from choclo, cobs of Andean corn with larger kernels and a less sweet taste than Americans are used to. Fresh, unripened cheese is used in this dish. Served with beans, choclo con queso is a crunchy snack and nutritious option.

  • Ceviche

Ceviche is a typical seafood dish along South America’s Pacific coast. It is mixture of raw seafood and shellfish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime. Tourists can find ceviche carts at the beach or at fine local restaurants.

  • Churo

If visitors prefer something different, churo (tiny sea snails served in a bag and topped with diced onions, coriander, and lime) is an Ecuadorian alternative.

  • Fanesca

This soup is a popular item on menus everywhere in Ecuador. Fanesca is a soup of bacalao (salt cod), figleaf gourd, pumpkin, chochos, lupines, fava beans, lentils, peas, corn, and other beans and grains — a dozen in total. Usually, fanesca is garnished with hard boiled eggs, fried plantains, and parsley.

  • Traditional Fruit

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 11.41.33 AMObviously, everyone is going to try the usual tropical fruit such as bananas, mangoes, and pineapple. Keep in mind, however, that Ecuador has interesting fruit varieties that are hard to find elsewhere. Buy them fresh from a street cart or try smoothies and shakes.

  • Guanabana: This fruit tastes like a mix of strawberry, pineapple, and coconut.
  • Naranjilla: Naranjilla is described in different ways by people. Many say it is a sweet mix between a tomato and orange. Others compare naranjilla to a cross between rhubarb and a lime.
  • Tomate de arbol: This variety is an acidic, slightly-sweet oblong tomato that grows on a tree.

What are your favourite Ecuadorian foods? Let us know in the comments!

One Response

  1. I would be particular interested in the beef dishes available in Ecuador. I am Canadian considering doing some travel in the country, and hoping to find dishes that offer some familiarity to my normal diet.

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