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Ecuador is a country distinguished by the culture and hospitality of its inhabitants. But not only that, the Ecuadorian gastronomy is full of delicious dishes and is considered one of the best and most characteristic of Latin America.
Each region has its own set of local delicacies, from the Amazon basin, through the mountainous region, to the Pacific coast. So if you are a lover of gastronomic tourism, you should travel to Ecuador.
But what is the most popular food in Ecuador? Check out our summary of the most delicious dishes!
Ecuadorian Gastronomy of the Coast
The gastronomy of the Pacific coast is based mainly on fresh fish and seafood. No surprise, because the length of the coast is more than two thousand kilometres!
The most popular dish on the coast of Ecuador is ceviche, which differs from the Peruvian version because it is cooked with a lot of coriander and lemon juice. It is usually served with popcorn, toast and chifles. People also make ceviche in Ecuador from calamari, shrimp and molluscs – you can choose whatever you want!
Another traditional Ecuadorian meal is the encocado de pescado: made of coconut and seafood served with rice, patacón, tomato, avocado and lemon. In Ecuador, this dish is prepared mainly with sea bass, but it can be replaced by other types of fish, such as halibut, tilapia, cod and even salmon. There are also varieties with shrimp, crabs and squid.
Soups are also a popular dish in Ecuadorian gastronomy. One of the most famous on the coast, recommended for hangovers, is encebollado, which is a fish soup with albacore, yucca, cilantro and a large amount of red onion.
It is usually served with fried plantains and sometimes with rice and bread. It is not a typical dinner dish, people in Ecuador eat it at any time of the day. As a tourist, you can get an early morning encebollado at the stalls, restaurants and bars on the street.
Seco de Chivo
On the coast of Ecuador, despite the availability of fresh seafood, you can also find some meat dishes. One of the most famous is Seco de Chivo, a stew that comes from the north of Peru.
Traditionally it is prepared with goat meat, but nowadays there are many types of Seco: chicken, beef, lamb or cow stomachs. It is a very aromatic, cheap and complete dish.
Ecuadorian Gastronomy in the Andes
Andean food in Ecuador is probably the most common among tourists. The Andes are known for crops such as potatoes and corn, so the Andean cuisine is based mainly on these foods combined with meat. So before your excursion to the Chimborazo, you can recharge your batteries with these dishes:
In the gastronomy of Ecuador, almost all the plates begin with soup. The most traditional and well known Andean soup is Locro de papa.
It is a thick soup made of potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, cheese and milk. The soup is simmered until the ingredients are completely cooked and the cheese melts. Locro de papa is served hot, with chopped coriander and avocado, especially popular on cold days.
Ecuadorians love cheese! Each region produces its own version, and although many of us will not notice the difference between them, connoisseurs and lovers will surely guess their origin.
The appetizer in which cheese plays a key role is the llapingachos. The name comes from the word “llapina”, which means crushing, and from the word “gachos”, which refers to a soft dough. They are potatoes with fresh cheese and fried onions.
The potatoes are boiled in saltwater, after which they are ground and mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Finally, they are formed into an oval shape and fried in lard. Ecuadorians traditionally serve llapingachos with a fried egg, chorizo and avocado salad. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Hornado y fritadas
Fans of specific meat dishes will also find something for them in the Andean region. It is worth recommending the Creole pork dishes such as the Hornado and the Fritada.
The Hornado is a marinated pork that is cooked on wood all night long. People served it with hot chilli sauce, with potatoes or mote. Fritadas, on the other hand, are pieces of meat cooked in water with orange juice, cumin, onion and garlic. When the water evaporates, the meat is fried in its own fat. Residents serve it with sweet potatoes, bananas or corn.
Ecuadorian Gastronomy of the Amazon Region
The Ecuadorian region of the Amazon offers tourists not only a variety of beautiful and impressive views and an incredible wealth of nature but also a mass of new flavours and scents. So if you are hiking in the Cuyabeno Reserve, you should try these dishes:
One of the most recommended specialities of Ecuadorian food is the Maito fish. In the past, this dish was considered a luxury and was only served on special occasions. The locals season it and wrap it in bijou leaves, then tie it with strips of toquilla straw and bake it directly in the fireplace. The fish can be served, among others, with green banana, yucca or tanned.
If you are a person who is not afraid of anything and likes to try unappetizing things, then we have something for you!
Chontacuros, one of the most exotic foods in Latin America, are white larvae that can measure five centimetres long and two centimetres wide. In Ecuador, they are especially known for their healing properties. They are supposed to relieve coughs and asthma and contain a large amount of vitamins A and C. The local population prepares them in various ways: they can be cooked, baked or even eaten raw. They are most commonly found as an addition to Maito.
This is only a small part of Ecuadorian gastronomy! You can also find amazing, exotic and fresh fruits, from which the locals usually make delicious juices. In addition, it is worth going to the local market and trying the specialities of the street vendors. In Ecuador people are eating on the streets from morning till night, you will be surprised how many interesting things you will find there!
If you have always dreamed of visiting South America, we assure you that the trip to Ecuador will be a shot in the arm! And if you are interested in the cuisine of other countries, we recommend the 8 specialities you need to try in Peru.