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Recognised internationally for the immense lure of its nature and wildlife, Ecuador is being uncovered as a destination for those seeking out robust cooking with plenty of character. These are 10 of the cheap, traditional dishes that are putting the country on the culinary map.
10 traditional foods to eat when travelling in Ecuador
Order this and expect plate piled high with slow roasted chunks of pork, crispy skin, salad and more. Find the best on the top floor of Cuenca’s Mercado 10 de Agosto, where ladies serve the dish from whole roasted pigs.
The marriage of seafood, coconut and lime is what makes eating on Ecuador’s coast so desirable. Encocado’s lightly spiced, velvety sauce places the spotlight on coconut milk as the vessel in which the day’s catch is gently poached.
A tangy tuna soup (Ecuador’s national dish) is bursting with coriander, lime and pickled red onion – it holds its own against any French bouillabaisse or clam chowder. Head to Guayaquil’s El Pez Volador, a restaurant bestowed with Anthony Bourdain’s seal of approval, for a bowl at just $3.50.
4. Bolón de verde
Breakfast in Ecuador is usually a simple affair. Paired only with a black coffee, these fried spheres of mashed green plantains provide locals with slow-releasing carbohydrates through the morning and beyond.
5. Mote sucio
A staple of those living at high-altitude across the Andean mountain range, this dish of mote (maize kernels) tossed in the rendered fats of chicharron (fried pork belly), garlic, onion and ground cumin provides a simple yet substantial supper.
Picture a rice pudding, substitute the rice for cracked maize to facilitate further creaminess, add in raisins, cinnamon and cloves and you have this super sweet Ecuadorian dessert/ drink hybrid. Ask for a spoon from the vendor, you’ll need it.
A speciality of Don Jimmy in Quito’s Mercado Central, this quasi-British fried fish and roast potato dish is generously doused in lime juice. Order the special and a prawn ceviche will come your way too – all for the equivalent of well under £5.
Ecuadorian ceviche differs from the Peruvian iteration insofar as the fish or shellfish is always cooked. Another marked difference is how soupy it is, with the finished article bearing resemblance to a South American-style gazpacho.
Perhaps more commonly recognised as “blood sausage” or “black pudding”, morcilla is a delicacy enjoyed all over Ecuador. Traditionally prepared with rice, parsley, cumin and paprika, it is poached or grilled over an open fire for added dimensions of flavour.
“Head to hoof” cooking is a philosophy ever-present in Ecuadorian cooking. This light vegetable broth conceals bite-size pieces of intestines, lung, tongue, stomach and sometimes liver. Traditionally served with a nutty side plate of fried blood, avocado and a pickled red-onion salsa.
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