Food in Ecuador

So… it’s food post time again! This time it’s the turn of Ecuador – and I can happily report a BIG thumbs up for Ecuador 🙂 A massive improvement on Peru… in Ecuador they can actually serve chips hot and give you a decent, non-chewy portion size! But the biggest bonus was the fact that seafood is available almost everywhere – AND, you can get a fillet of fish that is not full of bones!

We really enjoyed the food in Ecuador, so let’s start with lunch…

There was usually a fair number of set lunches to choose from – good value, and almost always with a fish or prawn option. We ate a lot of lunches out, and we ate a lot of fish.

Typical simple fish lunch – delicious fresh fish in a nice sauce, with a bit of rice and plantain chips.

Next up, we come to prawns! Our first meal out in Ecuador was battered prawns. We were very excited to get some prawns – and they were delicious. Little did we know that we had only scratched the surface of the Ecuadorian prawn world…

Our first lunch in Ecuador. TEN battered prawns, HOT chips, and a nice sauce. MMM
This prawn dish was a bit ‘minimalist’ – with only five prawns.
This prawn dish in Puerto Lopez was the only disappointing prawn dish that we had. Some of the prawns even had bits of shell left on them. FAIL.
BUT…. This prawn dish in Puerto Lopez was THE BEST. We still dream about this prawn dish… huge, juicy prawns barbecued in a special sauce. We went three times.

Now on to a few specialities…. first of all we have Encebollado. Encebollado is a very famous dish in Ecuador – almost the national dish. It is a fish stew – full of fish, but also with onions, cassava, and lots of delicous herbs and spices. It is GOOD!

Encebollado. From a place in Quito.
More encebollado – this one includes corn. On the left is an ’empanda verde’ – which is an empanada with dough made from green plantains.

As you can see from the above encebollado, the Andean tradition of using lots of corn continued in Ecuador, and we had many set menus that came with corn.

Menu of the day in Cuenca. We had Lentil soup, chicken, a drink, and dessert – all for $2 USD. BARGAIN! 🙂
Our lentil soup came with corn on the side. The dessert is quite small! (It’s the small dough thing in the container next to the drink). But what do you expect for $2 USD!!
The ‘seco de pollo’ – chicken main course.

Another Ecuadorian speciality is ‘Locro con queso’ – a soup/stew made with potatoes and cheese – yes how could one not like something made with potatoes and cheese?? This was also very good…

Locro con queso served with a side of corn.

Speaking of ‘locros‘ (stews) – we also had pretty good one with potatoes and avocado… with some cheese thrown in for good measure (the cheese wasn’t advertised!)

Locro with potato and avocado (and cheese).

Speaking of soups/stews, there is another Ecuadorian classic called ‘sopa de bola verde’ – which translates as ‘soup of green balls’. The ‘green balls’ are dumplings made with green plantains. So far so good, but they are stuffed with quite a meaty filling – which was a bit much for CC – I didn’t mind them at all – but on the other hand they weren’t as good as fish or prawns! 🙂

Sopa de bola verde.

As you may have deduced, plantains feature HEAVILY in Ecuadorian cuisine! Pretty much every single lunch had plantain in some form or another…

Chicken with a healthy dose of mashed plantain on the side. From Loja.

And finally, the last thing to say about lunches in Ecuador…. yes… they very often come with beans. This was great after a very ‘bean-less’ Peru. Eating beans is healthy 🙂 It also provides a ‘sauce-like’ material to make the rice less boring. Generally speaking the beans were very tasty – so it’s WIN, WIN, WIN with the beans 🙂

Lunch in a fast-food chain in Guayaquil. Check out all the lentils! (lentils are a kind of bean, no?)

Now with the lunches out of the way, let’s talk about the second great thing in Ecuador… BAKERIES! They are plentiful, and they have good stuff – not much else to say… 🙂 Let’s look at some examples…

Good stuff from bakeries

This bread tasted a bit sweet (like all bread in Ecuador) – but it was in a COOL turtle shape. From Puerto Lopez.
Sugar-laden croissant type things from Loja. Loja had a lot of good bakeries!
Filo pastry with pineapple topping from Loja.
Dough rings with icing – these are apparently called Roscones. From Cuenca.
Pan leche from Guayaquil. You can get ‘pan leche’ (milk bread)  everywhere – it’s pretty much just a sweet bread roll.
Pineapple bread from the Galapagos.
These types of cookies with a dollop of jam in the middle can be found everywhere in Ecuador. They are GREAT. They were our default bakery snack if there was nothing else interesting. This one is from Quito.

Now…the final item in the bakery section is not just from bakeries – you can get it in cafes as well. Sometimes they are hard to find, but they are VERY TRADITIONAL. They are wonderful, and we ate them whenever we could. They are called Quimbolitos.

Quimbolitos are made from cornflour, eggs, and cheese – and have raisins on them. They are cooked inside a leaf – and are also served and purchased with the leaves around them. They are an Ecuadorian speciality, which can also be found in southern Colombia (the bit that used to be part of Ecuador).

Quimbolitos! YEAH! 🙂

Street food
Ecuador has a few items that can usually be found at street stalls. Most of the things that we tried were pretty good. One of our favourites though, we are not sure if it’s actually Ecuadorian. It’s a corncake with a huge amount of grated cheese all over the top of it. Whilst corncakes are often found in Ecuador – we suspected that the version with grated cheese all over the top is a Venezuelan speciality (but we are ready to be corrected! :-)) (Due to the crisis in Venezuela, there are now many Venezuelans selling their street food in other South American countries)

Corncake covered in cheese.

Plain corncakes are pretty good too…

Corncakes grilling in Loja.
Corncake closeup.

Next up, we have something COMPLETELY different…. Espumilla – which is a traditional Ecuadorian sweet treat. It is made from meringue and is very sweet. It was a bit sickly in our view! But the Ecuadorians love it – sellers walk around the streets of Cuenca selling it to everybody that goes by…

CC with some Espumilla. It looks like ice-cream – but BELIEVE ME, it is NOT as good as ice-cream!
Espumilla seller.

Back to the corncakes again… this time we found some which were being made with a cheese and onion filling inside – YES! 🙂 We went back for these a lot.

Cheese and onion filled corncakes cooking in Latacunga.

And finally in the ‘traditional’ category we have ‘cevichochos’ – which is a word to describe ‘ceviche de chochos’. This is basically a vegetarian ceviche made with ‘chocho’ which is an Andean bean. It comes with a whole bunch of additions and is basically a lime-flavoured, slightly spicy bowl of goodness!

Cevichochos from Otavalo.

‘Non-traditional’ street food mostly consisted of chicken and chips or salchipapas (hot dog sausage and chips).

Beer and salchipapas – not the healthiest dinner – but when it’s raining in Mindo it does the job…

Last but not least – and also not really ‘street’ food – we have the ‘pizza and drink’ combo shops. All over Ecuador you can pay around $1 USD and get a big slice of pizza with a drink. The quality varies…. but it’s a good, cheap snack! 🙂

Pizza slice shop in Cuenca.

Other sweets and snacks
Moving on to other sweets and snacks, there was a pretty good line up of chocolate bars, ice-creams, and biscuits.

These are called aplanchados. They are baked dough with icing on top. We liked these a lot 🙂
The alfajores were pretty good in Ecuador.
Casero ice-creams. Banana flavour with chocolate inside…not too bad at all..
More ice-creams – this time of the Manicho variety.
Nikolo chocolate bars – we are suckers for peanut chocolate bars.
More delicious chocolate bars…
Our favourite supermarket biscuits.

The quest for cereal
So, lets talk about cereal in Ecuador…. yes we eat a lot of cereal. The first choice is generally a bran cereal – but this was sadly lacking in a lot of Ecuador – so we resorted to a flurry of random cereal trying…

Ecuadorian corn flakes.
We tried a quinoa cereal – but it was pretty rubbish.. a bit tasteless..
We even tried a cereal from the USA… not that great…

Finally a special mention to a fruit that we ‘discovered’ in Ecuador… although clearly not really – as it was actually a ‘dragon fruit’ and they grow them all over the place nowadays. But let me say that it’s really called ‘Pitaya‘ and it is originally from South America…

I’m pretty sure that I’ve eaten these before – but never paid much attention to what they look like on the outside. Anyway, they are REALLY TASTY…

Pitaya became part of our breakfast.

So there you have it – there’s more posts to come about drinks in Ecuador – but in our view, Ecuador had the best food in South America.. 🙂 🙂

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