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.


Aji Criollo – Ecuadorian Aji Sauce

By |June 7th, 2011|

One of the many misconceptions of Ecuadorean cuisine is that it is spicy, just like Mexican food.  While our food is typically not spicy, it doesn’t mean that us Ecuadoreans don’t like it hot.  We have a spicy condiment called Ají Criollo, which is a hot sauce made out of chillis served on the side.  This condiment is found in just about every household and restaurant in Ecuador, and folks add it to any of their meals at their leisure.

Growing up, we always had a jar of ají in our fridge.  I don’t recall my mom being a big fan of spicy stuff, but we prepared ají for my uncle, who loved adding it to his menestra.  In Ecuador – or at least in my family, it was customary for a family member to randomly stop by to visit, especially after work.  And it was also customary to offer him or her algo de comer – something to eat.  Regardless of what we had, even if it was sorbras (leftovers), a spoonful of ají criollo doused over any meal made it fresh!

Ají Criollo is really easy to make and the ingredients are widely available.  I decided to incorporate one jalapeño because I happened to have one in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it.  The ajies are nothing but Thai chillis – the red ones.   Once you make a batch of Ají Criollo, you can store it in a glass jar in the fridge for about a month.  However, if you’re like me, it may not even last you a week.  I hope you enjoy this super easy and spicy deliciousness of ají criollo. Your life will forever be changed.


How to make Patacones

By |May 19th, 2011|

Raise your hand if you LOVE patacones (I have both of them up)!  Patacones are fried, smashed green plantains.  Patacones are a very popular side dish in Ecuadorean cuisine, and they are also served throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  In Ecuador, we say patacones.  Living in New York where there is a large population of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, I’ve learned to say tostones.  They are one and the same, and they are muy ricos.

Patacones are quite easy to make, although in the beginning I had a tough time figuring out how to shape them.  Patacones sort of look like a flat flower.  Years ago when I made them for the first time, I tried to smash them first and then fry them.  Don’t do that; it doesn’t work.  Then, I tried to smash them AFTER frying them completely, but they all fell apart.  It wasn’t until my younger brother came to visit me recently, that I figured out the patacón process.

I think the coolest thing of the learning how to make patacones was that my baby brother taught me how to properly make patacones.  I am supposed to be the one teaching him stuff, not the other way around!  Needless to say, I am so happy and proud of him, and so impressed with his patacones-making abilities.  And now, here I am to share our pearls of patacones wisdom with you.


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.


Comments Off on Brown Rice with Andouille Sausage and Beans

Pan de Yuca – Ecuadorian Yuca Bites

By |May 11th, 2011|

One of my favorite treats when I was a little girl was pan de yuca.  And the reason it was one of my favorites was because every time my Abuelita came to visit (bonus #1), she would bring me a baggie with 5-6 pancitos and a frozen yogurt from this local snack place in Guayaquil called Yogurt Persa (bonus #2).  Ay Dios Mio!  It was the most delicious treat EVER!

Pan de Yuca are little breads made with tapioca starch and cheese – like little yuca bites.  The cheesier the better. My abuelita would ensure to stop by Yogurt Persa at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when a freshly baked batch of pan de yuca came out of the oven.  Pan de yuca are best when eaten warm/hot.  They are somewhat crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside…  In the words of Rachel Zöe if she spoke Spanish:  Me muero.  And yes, that is how much my abuelita loved me – only a piping-hot, fresh batch of pan de yuca for su nieta! Now, how did my grandma accomplished such successful feat, you may ask.  Well, at the time, Yogurt Persa was only a few blocks away from our apartment in El Centro, or downtown Guayaquil, and I think it was the only location in the city.  Fast forward to today, and I came to find out that Yogurt Persa offers franchising opportunities.  If you are living in Ecuador and sounds something it would be of interest to you, you might want to check them out.

**  Please note, I am not affiliated to Yogurt Persa whatsoever.  As a matter of fact, Yogurt Persa doesn’t even know I exist.  Furthermore, if I were to drop dead right now, they would not shed a tear, nor would they send El Señor Hubs their condolences.  Or flowers.   Having said that, Yogurt Persa can rest assure their frozen yogurt and pan de yuca have a very special place in my heart forever…  Amen.

On to the pan de yuca.  I don’t claim to have the specific recipe for their pan de yuca, but this recipe that my aunt (Hello again Tia Lorena!) gave me is perfect.  I also tested the recipe that is on the back of Goya’s tapioca starch bag, and it is pretty rad as well.  Upon further investigation, I realized the recipes were exactly the same.  The conclusion is: pan the yuca is pretty straightforward, and it is not a ground-breaking culinary creation.  Delicious – THAT, it is.