Empanadas de Mejido: Ecuadorian Sweet Custard, Cheese and Raisin Empanadas

By |October 7th, 2011|

I had forgotten how deliciously sweet these empanadas were! I am so glad that making them made me remember.  The filling may look strange when you look at the ingredients that go into it, but they all mesh so well and you basically end up with a custard-like mixture that melts in your mouth.  Now, the downside is that this empanada is fried.  While I have not baked them using this dough I don’t see why you couldn’t make them baked. However, a main characteristic of these empanadas is that they are dusted with sugar once they are fried.  Baking them probably doesn’t allow for the sugar to stick.

Empanadas de mejido are mostly typical of the Andes region of Ecuador, and I remember eating them during family trips to Quito and Riobamba when I was very, very young.  In Guayaquil, I mostly remember empanadas de queso, which basically have the same dough, but you only stuff them with a bit of cheese.  Empanadas de queso are also fried and they are also dusted with sugar.  Sugar and cheese = AWESOMENESS.


Ají de Tomate de Arbol: Tamarillo and Ají Sauce

By |October 5th, 2011|

Here is another traditional spicy sauce from Ecuador: ají de tomate de árbol.  Literal translation of this fruit is tree tomato, and it is known as such in other countries like Australia and New Zealand.  Tomate de árbol, also known as tamarillo is native to the Andes region of Latin America, so you will not only find this fruit in Ecuador, but in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.  Some varieties of the tamarillo are sweet, but generally speaking tomates de árbol are quite tart.  Back home, our preferred use of tomates de árbol was in juices, which are so delicious and refreshing.  Soups and juices – a staple in Ecuadorian cuisine.

I have not seen tree tomatoes sold at regular grocery stores around here, but the pasteurized pulp is available at my local Hispanic grocery store.  Of course, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found tomate de árbol pulp and was tempted to buy the whole frozen foods case.  This seems to happen quite often.  Soon I will be broke.  But I will have cases of tomate de árbol pulp, which seems to be a fair trade-off.


How to make Encurtido

By |October 3rd, 2011|

So guess what?  There is a better way of making encurtido.  Previously, I was cutting the onions and marinating in lemon juice for 20+ minutes and that was that.  It was good, no qualms about it.  However, I followed Michelle O. Fried’s recipe and…  Well…  I had a moment.  And it was magic.

As you recall, encurtido is nothing more than pickled onions.  Fried’s recipe makes sense: salt, lemon juice, sugar.  SALT!  SUGAR!  That was my epiphany.  I will therefore pass on my epiphany to you.


Guatita: Ecuadorian Beef Tripe Stew

By |September 30th, 2011|

Guatita is a very polarizing Ecuadorian dish, and people normally fall into 2 camps:  they either like it, or they don’t.  That’s it.  So what is Guatita?  Guatita, or guata, or mondongo is beef tripe.  Guatita itself is the name for the beef trip stew, which has a peanut and milk base, and it is one of the key dishes in our Ecuadorian culture.  Guatita also falls into the camp of food-to-eat-when-you’re-hungover, which means it cures the chuchaqui.  It is common to find street vendors selling guatita all over the city of Guayaquil.

As it is traditional with many Ecuadorian meals, guatita is eaten with a side of white rice, to sop up all the stew juices.  I like serving my guatita with avocado slices and encurtido, and it is also common to add some aji sauce to it.  Other ways of serving guatita include a hard-boiled egg in lieu of avocados, or just plain with white rice.

If you’ve had beef tripe before, and you kinda-sort-a-liked-it-but-weren’t-100%-sure-about-it, I highly recommend you trying guatita.  With an array of flavors and spices including the traditional refrito, plus cumin, peanuts, and milk, I guarantee you will be able to stomach this organ meat much better.  Pun intended.


Locro de Zapallo: Ecuadorian Squash Stew

By |September 20th, 2011|

Since it is basically Fall, I thought what better way to welcome it but with a Locro de Zapallo, also known as Ecuadorian Squash Stew.  Although we don’t have four seasons in Ecuador, this locro fits the category of comfort food and fall fare which many of us love.

Locros (LOH-crohs) are stews – usually from root vegetables – with the consistency of a cream of vegetable soup.  Locros are thick and hearty and they are normally the plato fuerte, or main dish.  In Ecuador, the most popular locro is locro de papa, which is a potato stew, and yet another one Yaguarlocro, consists of tripe and blood cooked with the potatoes.  Locros are traditionally eaten in the Andes region of the country, but it is a dish that is loved by coastal Ecuadorians as well – we used to eat it all the time.  Zapallo (squash) is also very popular in Ecuador and it makes a delicious stew.  Don’t fret my tasty friends, I will bring you locro de papa in a later post.  We’ll see about the yaguarlocro…

This is the first time I’ve made locro de zapallo for El Señor Hubs, although he claims we’ve eaten something similar before.  There are lots of Ecuadorian meals that are stews, but I’m positive I’ve not made this before, because I don’t recall how much a pain in the rear was to peel these darn green acorn squashes.  Peeling the squash was the only time-consuming part.  The rest is easy, and the results are well worth it.