Encebollado de Pollo – Ecuadorian Citrusy Chicken and Potato Salad

By |June 28th, 2011|

Wondering what to take to your next picnic?  How about Encebollado de Pollo!?  Encebollado, or “in onions” is a traditional Ecuadorean potato and yucca salad, with pickled onions (encurtido), lemon juice and either chicken or fish.  This salad is a great way to use that leftover chicken you may have laying around in your fridge, which was the case in my household.  If you want to use fish, any white, meaty fish will do.

We used to eat encebollado back in Ecuador quite a bit.  Namely, because it is an affordable meal.  My nanny used to stretch out the meal by adding more potatoes.  So if you happen to have an unexpected guest drop by, you added another potato to the salad and your guest thought you went through all that work, just for them.

It is also very common to see encebollado being sold out of a cart, along street corners.  Encebollado is also very popular among revelers who need a pick-me-up at 5am once the party’s over.  Encebollado, along with ceviche are great ways to get rid of the infamous chuchaqui, a.k.a hangover.  In the case of the encebollado, I suppose having all those starches from the potatoes and the yucca help absorb the alcohol, the lemon juice and the onions are refreshing and the protein from the chicken gives you that oomph to help you stumble make it home.  You can also add a cup of peas to your salad and serve it with sliced hard-boiled eggs.  Whether you have chuchaqui or not, I hope you enjoy this salad!


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Lengua en Salsa de Naranja – Veal Tongue in Orange Sauce

By |June 21st, 2011|

The first time I ate cow tongue I was 12 years old.  My sister was 3 and my brother was a baby.   I had a somewhat developed palate for certain types of food.  I want to think my palate was adventurous and unconventional for a 12 year old.  I mean, there were things I would not dare to eat – and probably to this date I may not.  Like cow brains for instance.  I’ll leave those to Andrew Zimmern.  However, cow tongue and other organ meats – THAT I can do.  My younger sister on the other hand, would scream bloody murder if she knew that on a particular day we were eating lengua – after discovering that one day she had eaten it unbeknownst to her.

My nanny used to prepare cow tongue in such way that was tender and citrusy sweet.  That first time we had IT, my sister ate it all.  We made no mention as to what IT was.  My sister was (and still is) the pickiest eater ever, and we knew it would be a disaster if we let her know what she ate.  But on that date, she ate IT.  Our nanny took a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the tongue into itty-bitty tiny pieces so there was no way to decipher what they were, masked among the sauce and the rice.  All we told my sister was, “Es carne!  Te gusta, no?”  The next time around, she accidentally overheard me ask our nanny what we were eating for dinner, to which she responded, “Hoy comemos lengua”.  The next thing I remember is hearing a scream and a wail – as if the gates of hell had opened and the dead had clawed and crawled up from the bellies of the earth.   And that was that.  IT was no more.  From that day forward, while the rest of us ate cow tongue, my sister ate seco de pollo.

I made cow tongue for the very first time when El Señor Hubs and I moved to the New York metro area about 8 years ago.  Host to basically the largest melting pot in the world, it is relatively easy to find meat cuts or spices that had been out of my reach before.  I recall when I spotted cow tongue at the supermarket for the first time, I almost broke into a happy dance.  AT the supermarket.  I waited until I got home to break into the happy dance, cow tongue flapping in hand.  El Señor Hubs wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating lengua.  But that was then.  Now he’s a pro.  AND he even helps me in the preparation!  Now, I also buy veal instead of cow tongue; a cow tongue is too much for just the two of us.  For those who’ve never had lengua before, in El Señor Hubs’ words, “lengua is a bit gamey, a bit chewy, but not stringy which is very imprortant”.  The way I make it does a good job at eliminating any gaminess and it is so tender it almost melts in your mouth.  My lengua recipe is finger-LICKING good.  Yes, I meant that.


Cebiche de Camarón – Ecuadorian Shrimp Cebiche

By |June 13th, 2011|

What is the best cebiche EVER?  The one that’s eaten at the beach!  As a kid, my favorite memories of eating cebiche were during our trips to Salinas, one of the many  beach towns in Ecuador.  My mom didn’t have a car, but my uncle – Tia Lorena’s husband –  did.  Actually, he had a pickup: a 1976 Nissan Datsun light blue pickup.  The coolest.  Pickup.  Ever. During school breaks, which for us kids in Guayaquil and along the coast were from January through April, we would drive two hours west to Salinas, usually on a Sunday.  My uncle would pack up the back of his pickup with a tent and a cooler full of drinks and head to the beach.  The cabin was packed with us: my uncle behind the wheel, me in the middle and my aunt next to me with my  little sister on her lap.   Packing up a car with more people that what’s allowed is quite common in Ecuador.  It was both a science and an art.  We excelled at both.

Upon arrival, my uncle would drop us off at the Malecón de Salinas with all of our accoutrements, while he went to find a place to park the truck.  Once settled, we would hang out for a few hours enjoying the sun, sand and sea.  Vendors would walk by selling countless tereques (tchotchkies), but my favorite vendor was El cocotero – the coconut water guy.  I was always in awe of these guys who quickly yet gracefully would carve out the coconut with their machetes until you had the perfect opening to put a straw through.  Quite the talent.  And generally speaking they had all their fingers.  With our agua de coco in hand, we headed to La Plaza for some cebiche.

Now, even though mom seldom came along, I always carried with me her sage pieces of advice regarding eating cebiche at the beach:

Mijita: NUNCA coma cebiche de balde.


Mijita:  NUNCA compre cebiche de cualquiera que tenga uñas negras.

Which means, my little daughter, NEVER eat cebiche out of a bucket, and NEVER buy cebiche from anyone who has dirt under their nails.  Thanks mom!  Clear as mud.  Or dirt.

Back in Guayaquil, my mom used to prepare cebiche in what I consider the most typical – and most delicious – way to prepare it.  You see, cebiche Guayaquileño or what I consider cebiche Ecuatoriano for that matter, has ketchup in it.  My mom would cook the shrimp for a few minutes and THEN let the acids do their thang.  We would eat our ceviche with sides of canguil (popcorn), or maiz tostado (sort of corn nuts), and chifles (fried green plantain thin slices).  My uncle would also have a side of arroz blanco – white rice – to sop up the cebiche juices, and he would add a few spoonfuls of ají criollo.  When I recently made this cebiche, it brought back so many memories.  El Hubs thought it was off the charts.  My mom would’ve been proud.


Brown Rice with Andouille Sausage and Beans

By |May 17th, 2011|

I love rice and beans.  In the early days of T’s Tasty Bits, I posted a rice and beans recipe accompanied by a dark picture which I tried to make pretty using computer software, which is clearly NOT Photoshop.  In that version, I used chicken sausage and also corn.  Pretty simple.  It fills your stomach.  And you can go about your day.  This time, I wanted to step up my rice and beans game.

First, I wanted to add a bit more of a complex taste to my rice.  I have to admit that lately, I’ve been cheating when cooking rice.  I have been using a rice cooker.  It is so much easier, and it is one less thing to monitor.  So back to the rice.  In order to add a layer of flavor, I added star anise, a few cloves and a couple of bay leaves to the water.  The result is an aromatic rice with a hint of spice.  Pure awesomeness.

In order to keep the spice theme but give it a kick, I used andouille sausage.  You can use kielbasa or other type of sausage, but I love the hint of heat andouille sausage has.  I sautéed the sausage with some onions, garlic and green peppers for extra flavor.  For the beans, I used good ol’ canned beans.  I went with two kinds: red kidney beans and pinto beans.  I also sautéed these along with the sausage and the onions and peppers, to ensure a uniform taste.  Finally, I served it with avocado slices drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.  The outcome was a smokey, spice-infused rice with sausage and beans that will result in a party in your mouth.


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Estofado de Carne Molida – Ecuadorian Ground Beef Stew

By |May 2nd, 2011|

Last week, I had a hankering for some estofado de carne.  Why did I think about it?  I don’t know.  I guess it must have been the lonesome potatoes I had laying on my kitchen counter and I just couldn’t decide what to make with them.  It was just one of those random thoughts one has on Wednesday evenings…

Estofado is nothing more than a type of stew.  In this case, beef stew.  Normally to make estofado you will use beef stew meat.  Did I have stew meat around?  Of course not.   I did have ground beef.  Alright, that’ll do.  Estofado is saucy, but not soupy.  You eat it with white rice.  And maybe some aguacate.  I remember estofado would welcome me home from school.  I remember eating this stew made me happy.

When I served the estofado to El Señor Hubs, his first reaction was, “Is this Hamburger Helper?”   He looked at me as I rolled my eyes, and he smiled.  “You know I’m kidding!”  Trust me, this is so much better than Hamburger Helper.  You won’t feel like crap after you eat it.

My estofado is pretty freakin’ easy to make.  AND delicious!  No slaving over this one!  As usual, the preparation of an estofado de carne can vary; each family and each region in Ecuador may have their own way of making it.  These type of stews can also have peas and carrots.  If you make the estofado with stew meat, it may take a bit longer to cook.  This is my version, and I like it because it is relatively quick, since we’re using ground meat.  Let me show you how I did it.