Fritada is by far one of my most favorite Ecuadorian dishes in the entire world. If you are a pork lover like me, I can guarantee you will agree with me. Fritada is one of those meals that are a must on road trips to the Andes.
Fritada translates into “fried”, and fritada is traditionally with pork. You will most likely know this dish as fritada de chancho, where chancho is pig, therefore it is a pork fry. Got that? My mind is filled with happy memories of eating fritada, because we always ate it when we visited Quito or Riobamba. For my family and many Ecuadorian families, the most economical way of traveling and seeing the country is by car or bus. When I traveled with my family, we packed the truck (yikes!), and headed from Guayaquil to Quito, which due to s-shaped, dirt and gravel roads along the mountainside meant it took eight hours to get there. However, there was nothing more exciting than stopping at a small roadside huequito (hole in the wall restaurant), and eating some fritada while overlooking some magnificent waterfalls of la Sierra.
Turns out that making fritada is easier than I thought, but it takes some time. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since a lot of our meals are cooked low and slow. For the fritada, you start by boiling the meat, and eventually the water cooks down to nothing, and you are left with the pork pieces. These in turn will begin to render its fat, which results in crispy, golden pork nuggets. Wow! However, the pork is the least of our problems; it is the sides you decide to serve, which dictate the length of prep and cook time. Traditional sides include hominy, habas (fava beans), yuca, corn on the cob, camote (sweet potatoes), sweet plantains, boiled potatoes and maíz tostado (toasted dry corn). My favorite side for fritada (and the most traditional one) is mote, or hominy. You can buy the canned stuff if you are pressed for time, but I like cooking it from scratch. Here is the issue: the hominy needs to soak overnight, and cooked for 3-4 hours in order to achieve its soft texture and “popped-popcorn” appearance. Pick your poison and choose what you want to do. I won’t judge you for cutting corners being practical.