Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ecuador - Cevieche

For Ecuador I made two dishes. One was fantastic and the other I spat out on my first bite.

I made Locro, a potato and cheese soup. It was delicious, easy and made a great weekend lunch on a cold day. For dinner I made cevieche. I made sure to buy the fish at a reputable fish market and I chose a variety of fish including sea bass, shrimp, squid, tuna and scallops.

I have had cevieche before – the last time in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I liked it, but I didn’t like mine. Maybe I should have used lime instead of lemon. Maybe I didn’t use the right kind of olive oil. The kids didn’t like it either but – surprise, surprise – Kevin went back for seconds. Mr. Sloppy Joe man gobbled up the cevieche. Who knew?

I was disappointed. Because I couldn’t eat my cevieche I ate a chocolate covered ice-cream cone with caramel, a glass of red wine and a handful of chips for dinner.

Ecuadorians love seafood and they like to accompany their dishes with rice, salad, potatoes, and pata cones, squashed fried green tomatoes. They also love bananas, bread and yucca. Their food is mild but they spice it up with aji, a chili sauce.

I think it is fascinating that one of the lasting affects of the Spanish conquest was the wide variety of food they took back to Europe from the Americas. The potato, for instance, had more impact on the world’s diet than any other food.

A couple of interesting dishes that they like to eat are roasted cuy (guinea pig) and tranquito (bull penis soup). These are dishes that didn’t seem to catch on in Europe.

Ecuador is located in South America near Colombia and Peru. It is a diverse country in climate and landscapes. It has distinct geographical regions: the Sierra, the Costa, the Oriente and the Galapagos Islands.

It’s a small country – second smallest in South America. So, if you can’t decide if you want to go somewhere cold or hot, or if you want to hike across glaciated Andean volcanoes or soak up the sun on a balmy beach. You can have it all in Ecuador and in one day’s journey.

After the end of such a long day you may want to sip on a drink called Chicha, a traditional alcoholic drink made by mixing freshly ground corn with boiling water and allowing the mixture to ferment.

Then if you’re hungry, you could order cevieche. Rest assured, I won’t be making it.

Locro (potato-cheese soup)

1/4 cup oil or butter
1/2 onion, minced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 to 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups of water or stock (I used chicken stock)
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup muenster, quesco fresco or mozzarella cheese, shredded.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add onion and garlic and simmer until onion is translucent. Stir in potatoes, water or stock, milk and salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are falling apart, 30-45 minutes. Mash the potatoes up a bit with the back of a spoon to thicken the soup, leaving it a little chunky. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in cheese. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately. Garnish with chopped avocado.


1 lb fish or seafood, chopped
3/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a large, non-reactive bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 3 hours.

Adjust seasoning and serve with popcorn or tortilla chips

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