Empanada Frenzy: Ecuador Essential Eats Part 4

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A local in Baños makes savory and sweet empanadas.

I know – y’all are probably sick of me gushing about Ecuador by now, but guess what? Empanadas!

Along with the overload of volcanoes we saw (seriously, there are so many volcanoes with so many names; I renamed them all Karl), empanadas are errywhere. A staple in South America, they come stuffed various fillings depending on the region. In Ecuador, green banana is common, as is cheese and one filled with cinnamon and sugar for dessert! The American equivalent would be hand pies, but we all know they just aren’t the same.

The word empanada comes from the word empanar, which means to wrap something in bread. I find that fascinating that there is a whole word devoted to this concept. It just goes to show that the Spanish know what’s up when it comes to their pastries.

Check out mis pasteles favoritos below. I’m very tempted to make some dessert empanadas of my own next week – what are your thoughts on what I should stuff them with? If I pick your filling, you’ll get a homemade batch delivered to you!*

So many options.

* Giveaway applicable to SF residents only.

Starting the trip right with baby empanadas at Hotel Quito. The spicy dipping sauce was awesome as well.

A green banana empanada on the right and a chicken one on the left from Restaurant Yaravi.

A sweet empanada from the local market. I also got a savory one, cus I’m a fatty like that.

The last empanada standing…at the airport! Don’t mind my grimy nails.

Something Fishy: Ecuador Essential Eats Part 3

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When I was researching all the food I was going to encounter in Ecuador, (obviously way more important than sightseeing), I was worried that there wouldn’t be a lot of pescatarian items for me. South America tends to be a meat-heavy cuisine, and it shows when you walk through the plethora of beef and chicken markets.

Luckily, Ecuador is a lush country filled with rivers and lakes, which means fish. In nearly every city we stopped in, fish found its way onto my plate, and gracias al dios because otherwise I’d be eating empanadas for every meal (which I would be okay with – more on that later)!

Check out the best of the traditional and non-traditional fish dishes we sampled. I added in a few of the standard meat options as well; I didn’t try them, but I heard great compliments from my family members who did eat those entrees. As for me, I was content with my trout snapper sea bass – you get the picture.

Pescado for days.

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In between cities, we made a stop-over to try maitos from a dhaba-looking place. Maitos are made in the same way as tamales – steaming things in banana leaves. Typically, they are filled with meat and served with some yucca root. The tilapia comes whole, head and bones, so it’s a little tough to pick apart, but worth the effort. Chonta kura (worms!) are another common delicacy, but I wasn’t brave enough to try them, which I’m okay with.

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Most meats are cooked over an open flame in Ecuador, and fish is no exception. At Cotocachi, we had prawns and snapper, which I had fond memories of eating last year in Belize. The fish is prepared traditionally and is served with familiar items like fries and a salad.

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Ecuador’s lakes are filled with trout, so it was the easiest fish to come by. The trout at Hacienda Manteles was fantastic – well-proportioned with room for dessert.

Llapingachos, a traditional dish of sausage, corn cake, egg, and avocado. Simple ingredients, but a filling dish as my brother can attest to.

How many licks does it take?

Banana con helado, a simple dessert with cream that is light as a feather. Moar plz.

Linkables

Restaurant Yaravi: Located amongst the shops of El Mitad Del Mundo, it serves traditional, no-frills Ecuadorian food. Pretty touristy, but solid food.

D’Anita: A traditional restaurant in Cotocachi, a town known for its leather goods. Run by a family, everyone is attentive and accommodating, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. Outdoor patio is great during warmer weather, and fish dishes are delicious.

Hacienda Manteles: Beautiful hotel in Baños with great views of the mountains. It’s a homey bed-and-breakfast with extremely nice staff. If you ever need anything, Fernando, the manager, has your back no matter what.