Ecuador is blessed with a diversity of native ingredients, thanks to its geography.
Because of its large coastal region, seafood is abundant. There's a mountainous strip in the middle of the country, where traditional Andean crops such as potatoes (many different native varieties) and grains like quinoa and corn are cultivated. The tropical region produces many exotic fruits.
Potatoes, yuca, rice, beans, plantains, seafood, chicken, beef and pork are all staples of the Ecuadorian diet. Aji, a... spicy chile pepper hot sauce, seasons everything. Ceviche is very traditional (shrimp ceviche is especially popular), as are soups and stews.
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Ecuadorian appetizers make good use of yuca in fritters, chips and as stuffing for empanadas which are traditionally filled with meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables or greens. Pumpkin is turned into fritters called pristinos and avocado is stuffed to become aguacates rellenos. Here are recipes for traditional offerings:
- Shrimp Ceviche with Tomato Sauce - Ceviche de Langostinos Recipe
- Patacones - Fried Green Plantains Recipe
- Empanadas de Queso - Cheese-Filled Empanadas Recipe
- Aji Criollo - Green Aji... Salsa Recipe
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Ecuadorian Soups and Stews
Ecuadorian soups and stews contain vegetables and fruits that can be made thick or thin and liquidy. They are eaten at any meal of the day as a first course. A traditional Ecuadorian soup is the sope de tomates con plantanos, meaning tomato soup with bananas. Locro de papa, or potato soup, is very popular throughout South America as are fish soups like the chupe de pescado. Enjoy these traditional recipes:
- Locro de Papa Ecuatoriano - Potato Soup Recipe
- Cazuela de Camaron - Shrimp in Plantain and... Peanut Sauce Recipe
- Chupe de Maní - Potato and Peanut Soup Recipe
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Ecuadorian Main Courses
Seafood, fish, beef and pork are common in Ecuadorian cuisine. Pork is used extensively in stews and seafood often is featured in cold dishes with assorted sauces and rice. Here are some examples of typical main course dishes:
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Ecuadorian desserts range from sweet pastries to pies, fruit mixes and butter-based doughs. Pumpkin, coconut, mango, bananas and citrus are often found in sweets. You can't go wrong by ending any Ecuadorian meal with one of the following desserts:Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Ecuadorian Street Food and Snacks
Humitas, the local word for tamales, are probably the favorite Ecuadorian snack and street food because they are so portable. Dumplings and empanadas with different fillings -- cheese, eggs, meat or vegetables -- tie for second place in popularity.
Ecuadorian sandwiches are best represented by sanduche de chancho, which includes broiled pork leg, crunchy bread, pork juice and red onion sauce. A lighter snack is the fresh broad bean salad, locally known as ensalada de habas.
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All types of bread exist in Ecuadorian cuisine, some of it made without flour at all like yuca bread, much to the delight of those following a gluten-free diet. Others are made with corn flour. But there are enough white-flour breads, like the following recipes, to satisfy a traditionalist.