Prep 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
My first venture into Ecuadoran cuisine. I was inspired to try an Ecuadoran dish by a recent trip a friend took the South American country. Instead of buying a bottle of achiote oil, in a small pan I stirred together one teaspoon of ground achiote and the corn oil. Warmed the mixture on low-medium heat, then set it aside five minutes to infuse. Allow me to digress at this point-my Pre-Emptive Strike of the Day: no, turmeric cannot be substituted for achiote/annatto, and no, saffron cannot be substituted for achiote/annatto. Finally, no, the achiote/annatto cannot be omitted. As I was saying, Mexican queso fresco replaces impossible to find Ecuadoran quesillo. From the little bit of research I've done online, typically, the llapingachos are served with a fried egg and a simple salad of lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocado and a sprinkle of lime juice. Two recipes for the price of one! Recipes found on ciaprochef.com. You can download a video tutorial of the recipe there. Note: lime juice was mysteriously missing from the original ingredients' list so I guessed the amount. Check out this menu: Menu #19852
- 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 1 1/2 lbs-any mealy potato will work)
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 3 -4 medium scallions, finely minced
- 1⁄2 cup mexican queso fresco, crumbled
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- salt, to taste
- 1⁄4 cup corn oil
- 1 teaspoon ground achiote
Red onion relish
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (into rings or slivers)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1⁄2 tablespoon salt
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 2 fresh cayenne peppers or 2 serrano peppers, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- Cooking the Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a medium pot with 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and mash, leaving the mixture slightly chunky.
- Mixing and Shaping: When the puree cools a bit, but is still warm to the touch, add the scallions, cheese, black pepper, and salt. Mix well. Divide the puree into 24 balls—about one heaping tablespoon of puree for each ball. Flatten the balls to form patties 1 ½-inch wide by ½-inch thick. Let cool for at least twenty minutes before cooking, otherwise they will stick to the pan and fall apart.
- Cooking: When the patties are cool and firm to the touch, heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add 1 ounce achiote oil and 10 - 12 patties. Cook for 3 minutes at low heat to form a crust. With a narrow spatula, flip the patties over and brown them on the other side on medium heat for three minutes. Repeat the process with rest of the llapingachos.
- Red Onion Relish: Place onions in a medium bowl with the lime juice. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, hot peppers, and cilantro. Season with salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- Serve llapingachos hot with a dollop of red onion relish.
- Note: Servings are estimated as an appetizer.