Did you know that food tours can be even more of an adventure? I bet these dishes will amaze you and shock you simultaneously. But will you dare? Here is the list of the top 10 dishes you MUST try in Ecuador and the top 3 you must avoid at any cost.

1. Encebollado

If you go to a party during your stay in Ecuador, the next day, the encebollado will be your salvation for the hangover or, as locals call it – “chuchaqui.” Encebollado is a hot soup based on a fish called albacore. It also contains cassava, tomato, onion, pepper, and other ingredients to give it flavor.

Ecuadorians dispute the correct accompaniment for this dish, but we tell you all so you can choose: popcorn, chifles, toast, or bread. Which one do you prefer?

2. Yaguarlocro. Typical Ecuadorian soup with … BLOOD!

The potato is one of the most important tubers of the Sierra and could not fail to be the protagonist in one of the typical dishes of Ecuador. The locro is ancestral and emblematic of this region.

This thick soup is made with a potato called “papa chola”. With this base, you can achieve other dishes such as chard locro, broad beans, squash, corn… and yaguarlocro. The difference between the regular locro and yaguarlocro is that the last one contains cow`s blood. But don`t worry, and the blood is dry and safe for consumption. It also has avocado, cheese, and, like all typical Ecuadorian food, ají (spicy). You won’t need a main course after this soup!

3. Hornado

If the frying seems heavy, baking is the best option. This is one of the most famous typical Ecuadorian dishes and the fritada. They are very similar, but you cannot miss their taste. The big difference is that in the hornado, the pork is roasted, and its meat is served shredded, while in the fritada, the meat is fried and cubed.

When baked, a sauce is added that ironically is called sour, but its flavor is sweet. And the perfect touch is a piece of crispy leather, not to be missed!

4. Fanesca

The fanesca is a typical dish during Holy Week and has a religious background: it contains twelve Andean grains representing the 12 apostles, and its broth is based on milk and cod. It is served hot in the deepest dish, and on top, it has small empanadas, dough balls or bagels, fried ripe plantains, egg slices, onion stems, fresh cheese, whole chili peppers, and parsley leaves. Are you missing something else? If your fanesca is prepared correctly, the spoon will stand upright on your plate. Do the test! The fanesca is a whole process that is shared with the family. It is said that after this date, the rate of gallbladder operations increases by the number of grains consumed. Dangerous but delicious!

5. Grilled Cuy, or as we call it – Guinea Pig.

Cuy is an animal that’s native to the Andes mountains.

The Andes, which begin in Colombia, and stretch down through Peru (and all the way to Chile), are where guinea pigs were historically raised specifically for eating. It has a very simple explanation. First, the cuy doesn`t need much food, making cultivating them cheap. Secondly, its meat is rich in protein and fats, which is important for high-altitude areas. But don`t get confused. This type of guinea pig is not the same that we used to have as a pet. I agree. It might look terrifying when you see it on the plate. But the taste is really rich and unique. Some people compare it with the meat of ducks or rabbits. If you can`t try it because of how they serve it (whole carcass including head and paws), you can ask them to cut it in pieces.

6. Fritada

It is a typical pork-based dish you will find everywhere: from the most luxurious hotel in the capital to the “hollows” of the smallest and most charming towns in the Ecuadorian SierraIt has crispy pieces of pork, full of the incomparable seasoning of typical Ecuadorian food. Also, products harvested from the mountainous land include llapingachos (potatoes with cheese), corn on the cob, mote, fried sweet plantain, avocado, and pickle. Almost nothing!

The traditional way of preparing it is in a bronze pan cooked over firewood. Without a doubt, that gives a special touch to the flavor of the fritada. It is a strong and exquisite dish. Surely after eating it, you will need a good nap!

7. Ceviche

You might hear about this dish before or even have tried it. But did you know that Ecuadorian have their way of cooking this dish? For example, compared with Peruvian ceviche, the Ecuadorian one has much more liquid and a herb called cilantro. So, it is a cold soup with seafood marinated with lemon, onion, tomato chunks, and Ecuadorian spices.

The most famous is the shrimp ceviche, but you can also try shell, fish, crab, squid, or other shellfish. You can even combine them and order a delicious mixed ceviche. Besides, you will have chifles (fried green plantain slices), popcorn, toast (fried corn), and rice. A dish that makes your mouth water!

8. Bolon de Verde

On the coast, the green banana is vital. The bolones are just one recipe of the many that people from the coast have. It consists of a green dough stuffed with cheese, chicharrón (pork), or both. They can be baked or fried. Either way, they taste great, and you will want to eat more than one. Usually, bolon de verde is served for breakfast in the Pacific coast. The perfect and simple drink to accompany them is a good black coffee!

9. Empanadas de Viento

Ecuadorian empanadas de Viento (wind empanadas) is a delicious combination of melted cheese and onions in a crunchy fried dough sprinkled with sugar. They are so light and puffy that you can easily lose count of how many you ate!

The filling may consist of beef, chicken, cheese, tomato, corn, chocolate, cream, or other ingredients. They’re a must-have side dish when preparing other popular Ecuadorian dishes like fritada or fanesca.

You can buy these empanadas from food stalls, markets, or restaurants in Ecuador. During religious holidays, women from the countryside fry empanadas at home and sell them in front of churches.

10. Chontacuros

Ok, here we go, my favorite – larvae. But those are not regular worms.

Chontacuro is a Quichua word that means “chonta or mayón worm”. This dish is unique in the country, specifically in Archidona, in the AmazonIt is a kind of larva seasoned and cooked in a maito leaf or directly on the fire as a skewer. Try the chicha, crushed and fermented cassava, with sweet potato. With this one, you might not agree with me, but I can guarantee you, you will like it. It is safe and useful to eat.

If you are one of the bravest, we leave you an option so that you can live an Amazonian Kichwa experience. Try this! Chontacuro can also be eaten alive with a little salt and lemon. If you dare, accompanied with yucca chicha prepared with the ancestral method, that is, chewed and spit out by community members.

Moving forward to the top 3 dishes that we strongly don`t recommend you eat in Ecuador. You should always remember that different areas and countries have different bacteria, which can be okay for the locals but not for the foreigners. Plus, the level of hygiene must be considered too. You shouldn`t rush to try street food on the first day of your trip unless you want to spend your vacation in the restroom.

1. Tripa Mishqui

The mishqui tripe is a traditional dish of Sierra del Ecuador’s gastronomy, consisting of cow tripe roasted on coals. For some, its nutritional value is unique. It is usually served with mote or potatoes. The word mishqui means tasty or of good flavor. But I don`t recommend you to trust this. Usually, this dish is cooked and served on the streets without proper hygiene conditions. Also, if tripes are not cleaned well, they can cause severe poisoning and possible food infection.

Some people will tell you that it is delicious and worth trying, but we say that you have to think twice before doing it.

2. Chicken Soup

What do you expect to see when ordering chicken soup? Well, I will tell you in advance what you gonna see in Ecuadorian chicken soup – feet. Maybe you will find it normal, but I have to warn you. Besides that, the reason why I don`t recommend you to try it is the taste. I often found it tasteless or with weird ingredients, like yuka or beans.

3. “Brownies” from the beach

If you spend your vacation on the Ecuadorian coast, you will probably see many local people there, trying to sell you some crafts or foods. One of that delights is homemade brownies. Also, they call them happy brownies. They contain some substances that make you drunk or drugged, and we strongly don`t recommend trying them.

Of course, this is not the whole list of delicious food of Ecuador, and once you visit this lovely country, you will learn and discover your favorite dishes. With this, we can help you! Book a food-tasting tour in Ecuador with us and enjoy your gastronomy adventure!

If you want to see more, we recommend visiting the Ecuador Gastronomy link.

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