Posted by: Jena Davison | May 9, 2012

Ecuadorian Coastal Food: Seafood Splendid Seafood

Ecuador’s coast is known for its tranquil beaches, warm waters, Afro-Ecuadorian culture, and humid and dry tropical forests. Although it doesn’t have a reputation like Peru in terms of coastal food—and upscale Ecuadorian restaurants haven’t become trendy in major cities throughout the world as Peruvian restaurants have—it would be unfair to say that Ecuador’s food doesn’t deserve its own praise.

Seafood is the star of the show on the Ecuadorian coast, and comes cheaply and in abundant portions, whether fried, grilled, breaded, roasted or bathed in delicious sauces. Whereas Ecuador’s Andean food consists of a lot of pork, chicken, white rice, beans and potatoes, the country’s coastal food incorporates fish, coconut, peanuts, lime and plantains, making for an exotic contrast.

Here is a brief explanation of some of Ecuador’s most popular coastal dishes:

Bolón– a ball of mashed green plantains filled with either cheese or pork skin and fried, served with ají (hot pepper sauce) and black coffee

Bolón de queso and black coffee

Majada– smashed bolón topped with fried egg and sometimes accompanied by queso fresco


Viche/Biche– a peanut-based fish stew with balls of mashed plantain, pieces of fish and pieces of yuca; especially delicious when squeezed with a generous helping of lime

Ceviche/Cebiche– pieces of raw fish (or shrimp, clams, crab or other seafood) marinated in lime juice and salt with onions and tomato. In Ecuador, ceviche is more like a soup, and is served with chifles, or plaintain chips, and popcorn. Depending on which part of the coast, the ceviche is sweeter (further north) or more sour (further south). It is usually made sweeter by adding ketchup and mustard to the ceviche

Ceviche de Pescado

Conchitas Asadas– black clams that are roasted or broiled until they open; they are delicious when squeezed with fresh lime juice

Encebollado– fish soup made with onions and yuca; it is known as the ultimate hangover cure due to its high Iron content

Empanadas de Verde– empanadas whose masa, or dough, is made from smashed green plantains, then filled with cheese or shrimp

Encocado– seafood in a coconut-based sauce

Encocado de Camarones

Al Ajillo– seafood in a garlic-lime sauce

Camarones apanados- shrimp that is breaded and fried; pescado apanado (fish that is breaded and fried) is also common

Patacones– smashed and fried green plaintains, served as an accompaniment to almost any coastal dish (like the Ecuadorian coastal equivalent to French fries)


Parillada de mariscos– a grilled platter of mixed seafood (fish, calamari, prawns, clams, etc.), usually in a garlicky olive oil-based sauce

Parrillada de Mariscos

Cazuela de mariscos- a seafood stew made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, green plantains, cumin, achiote and other spices; versions vary, sometimes also made with peanuts and coconut milk

Tortilla de camaron-a version of Spanish tortilla, or an omelet made with veggies and shrimp

Tortilla de Camarón

Camarones/pescado en salsa de maní– shrimp/fish in a delicious, creamy peanut sauce; found in many restaurants in Puerto López in the province of Manabí

These are just some of the delicious plates studding menus on the Ecuadorian coast as well as in some coastal restaurants in Quito. Prices are often shockingly low, especially compared to how expensive seafood is in the U.S. and Europe, excluding some of the upscale restaurants in Quito. Ceviche usually ranges from $2-7, while main plates typically run $4-8. A bolón and cafe comes to a whopping $2-3. Prawns and lobsters can be found on many menus, costing as little as $10 for a plate. Accompany any of them with an ice-cold cerveza, fresh-squeezed juice or batido, and have a tummy-filling and satisfying meal for less than $10.

Here is some other general seafood vocabulary to help you navigate menus and order the right thing:

pescado– general term for fish

corvina– sea bass

camarón– shrimp

almeja– clam

concha– black clam

ostia– oyster, though only really found on northern coast, in Esmeraldas

mejillón– mussel, though not found on Ecuadorian coast

mariscos– general term for seafood, a mix of different types of seafood

calamar– calamari

cangrejo– crab

langosta– lobster

langostino– prawn





  1. The best food we had on the Ecuadorian coast was in Olon. Eddie’s Tacos on the main highway running through the coast and Rasimars a local restaurant two blocks toward the ocean across from the park in Olon.

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