Food, Glorious Food!
Coconut, shrimp, and pineapple are plentiful here in Ecuador, especially on the coast. Chances are you’ll find a coconut salesperson on your local bus or manning a stand on the highway. We live right next to a shrimp farm and near many shrimp processing factories and talk about perfect pineapples that cost mere pennies…We are so lucky! Put them all together and you have a great appetizer: Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chutney.
We prefer to bake ours, más o menos following this recipe for the shrimp and then for the chutney I chop up some fresh pineapple (mango would also be great), red bell peppers, and red onions and sautée them in a pan with red wine vinegar, white sugar, and ginger until it reduces. You can make it less chunky by cutting smaller pieces of pineapple or you could choose to blend it after it’s cooked. We like it chunky as pictured above.
One of the things I miss most about food in the States is the variety and the fact that it can be delivered. I miss specific restaurants and cuisines but mainly I just miss the idea of coming home after a long day and instead of cooking something from scratch at least having the option to make a phone call to get Indian, Thai, Sushi, pizza, the tuna melt from the 24-hour diner down the street delivered to my door. Boy do I miss New York!
Back in Brooklyn we had Indian delivered probably twice a month (at least) plus we would eat at our favorite local Indian place at least as often. One of the things I made sure to pack in the two bags I was allowed to take to Peace Corps was Indian spice mixes – Garam Masala, Chana Masala, Vegetable Curry, and Curry Powder. Thankfully, they have lasted a long time and I haven’t needed to replenish our stock just yet. While I can make a reasonable substitute to the chana masala we used to eat, I had never attempted my favorite app: samosas until now. They were so good I made them twice in one week!
I mainly followed this recipe for the samosas (I substituted corn for peas ) and then I followed this recipe for the tamarind sauce. Paul was amazed at how well they turned out and I am stoked that I can now make tamarind sauce (my fave) whenever I like!
Encocado de Pescado
When I visited Esmeraldas Province for our Tech Trip during Pre-Service Training I ate Pescado Encocado at least once a day. It is fish cooked in a coconut milk-based sauce and usually served with rice (of course!) and comes in variations with shrimp or mixed seafood. I have tried several different recipes for this one – but hadn’t perfected it until my last attempt, which wasn’t exactly perfect but came close to achieving the real Esmeraldas flavor I remember. I served it with couscous and it was delish!
I found the most recent recipe in a cookbook that was put together by a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador. It’s called Buen Provecho (like Bon Apetit) and it’s an amazing resource that I use frequently, especially when we don’t have internet or power.
Here is the recipe:
ENCOCADO DE PESCADO
2 1⁄2 pounds fresh fish, cut in medium size chunks (I kept my filet whole and then broke it when serving)
1⁄4 cup lime juice, from about 2 limes
Juice from 2 oranges
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Mix the lime juice, orange juice, crushed garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander powder and salt in a small bowl. Marinate the fish chunks for 1 – 2 hours.
Heat the oil to prepare a base for the sauce, add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the coconut milk, mix in well and cook for about 10 minutes, if you prefer a thicker sauce you can thicken the sauce by adding 1⁄2 teaspoon of cornstarch. Add the fish fillets, cover partially and let simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice and fried ripe plantains (or couscous).
My friends used to call me mini Martha because I like to make things – crafts, food, art…lo que sea like Martha Stewart. Well, a little while ago I discovered there really is someone out there who is like a mini Martha and her name is Brit. She runs a site called Brit + Co. that features all sorts of projects geared towards 20 and 30 year-olds. Naturally, I signed up for the newsletter right away!
I found this recipe for black bean brownies on Brit + Co. and although they look good, I think I need to take another stab at them for the results to be mistaken for real brownies. Next time, I’m going to use more (and better quality) chocolate and I’m going to actually blend the black beans instead of just mashing them with a fork (boy do I miss my food processor!). I think those two changes will help a lot.