Eat Ecuador – Ecuador’s Fish Stew – Encebollado
Read about this series here: the Eat Ecuador Food Series
A National Dish of Ecuador
If I need to grab a quick lunch in Ecuador, I know I can head to a local restaurant and get a hot, filling, and incredibly tasty bowl of encebollado.
While the name means something like, “made with onions” the dish is really a fish soup with a murky flavorful broth. Along with generous helpings of tuna, you’ll get some cassava or yuca in it, as well as a ton of flavor including cilantro, garlic, and maybe a bit of chili and cumin. On top of it all will be a sexy (maybe not to your significant other) helping of onions. The onions are slightly pickled and don’t taste too strong at all. And the flavors don’t stop there! On the side, encebollado always comes with limes, which you squeeze right into the bowl to your taste. You’re also likely going to get a bowl of plantain chips and popcorn. This isn’t an appetizer (well, it can be if you want) -- throw it right in the soup. The popcorn will go a little soggy if it’s in there too long, but it still provides a corn taste. The plantain chips really add a nice crunchy texture as well as a bit of flavor. I promise you this dish will fill you up. I’m always amazed at how much tuna is in it.
If you happen to be going to Guayaquil while traveling the beautiful country of Ecuador, you should maybe save this meal for that city, since it was invented on the waters of Guayaquil. Apparently, the dish was first cooked in the kitchen of a boat, and it was fed to the hungry, hard-working dock workers.
In the video I got my soup with some freshly squeezed juice. I recommend something with not too much citrus, as you’ll be citrus-ing up your soup with those limes. I had a nice glass of mora juice, or blackberry juice, one of the favorite fruits in Ecuador. This berry is everywherry -- from ice cream to juice to yogurt. They can’t get enough of it and now I can’t either.
Encebollado has been adapted by many chefs. Everyone wants to tweek this traditional dish. Sometimes you get something amazing, like the seafood version with shrimp, clams, and fish… I mean, how can that be bad? I’m sure some variations don’t work out at all, but I can’t say that I’ve had a version that I don’t like.
The seafood version will set you back around $5, but the regular fish stew version is usually pretty cheap -- about $2.50-$3. You can find it for breakfast or lunch. If you’ve had too much to drink the night before, encebollado is suppose to help with hangovers. I don’t know if it actually works cause my hangovers keep me bedridden. Do I sound like the type of guy you want to buy a guide from?!
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