Our very short Esmeraldas cookbook

1024 576 Pedro Colmenárez

The Real-Deal Esmeraldas Black Conch Ceviche (serves 4)

1 kg of live black conch shells (they must be at least 4.5 centimeters in diameter… do not accept smaller shells, they are banned and threaten the species’ existence)
1 tomato peeled, chopped and seedless
1 onion
Cilantro (and local chillangua)
4 lemons
salt to taste
olive oil

Chop the onion into thin slices and let sit in salted water for 5 to 10 minutes (or do as the Esmeraldas cooks would: cut the onion into thin slices and place them, in your hands, under running water for a few seconds while squeezing to remove the bitterness, then leave aside in a bowl with some salt). Split the shell in half and take out the meat and ink (juice) into a container. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, chillangua and chopped coriander and pickled onion. Season with salt and olive oil to taste.


Seafood rice, Atacames style (serves 6)

½ kg of shrimp
½ kg of clams
½ kg of black conch
½ kg of squid
4 cups of fish/seafood stock
2 peeled tomatoes, chopped and seedless
8 garlics, mashed
1 onion
1 paprika
oil with achiote (annatto)
cumin
chopped herbs: basil, cilantro and local chirarán and chillangua
2 cups of rice
1 coconut
Butter
Salt
Pepper

Grate the meat of half a coconut and then squeeze with your hands until you fill a cup with the milk (that’s the local way… but you can also get prepared coconut milk at your local supermarket). Sautee chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic and peppers in the oil with annatto, and turn it onto a sauce. Add cumin, chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Add coconut milk and cook until thick. Separate from the flame. Open half of the clams and conchs. Salt them, sprinkle with oil, lemon juice and local chillangua or chopped coriander and roast for 10 minutes, (or you can also place them in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes). Cut the squid into medallions and place them, with the shrimp, in the sauce and mix over low heat for 5 minutes. In a large pot, melt oil and butter, add salt to taste and add the two cups of raw rice, stirring until all the rice is “lubricated” (30 seconds). Add 2 cups of fish broth (or water) and cook until the rice is almost ready, just a little hard. Mix this rice with the sauce, shrimp, conchs and remaining clams (which you did not roast) and squid, mixing so that the sauce is spread evenly. Add another cup of fish stock until the rice is ready (if the rice is still hard, add more broth). Serve on a large tray decorating the plate with the roasted/baked shells and clams.


The fish Encocao

1 coconut
1 kilo of white fish
1 onion
1 tomato
1 green pepper
6 garlics, mashed
Beer
Vegetable oil with achiote (annatto)
Half a cup of chopped herbs: local chirarán and chillangua and/or chopped cilantro

Split a ripe coconut in half with a machete and grate the coconut meat. Squeeze this meat with your hands and set this milk aside (or buy the coconut milk at the market, which is certainly less time-consuming, but also less fun). In the heated vegetable oil with achiote cook the finely chopped onion, garlic, tomato and green pepper until the sauce is thick. Add local chillangua and chiraran and chopped cilantro with ¼ cup of beer, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until sauce thickens again. Remove some of the sauce and place the fish in the frying pan until it is drenched in sauce. Make sure the fish only browns on the outside and does not cook on the inside. Remove the fish from the burner. Cook the rehash that you set aside in the coconut milk for 10 minutes over low heat until it thickens and then add it to the fish and cook for 5 more minutes over low heat until the coconut sauce has fully penetrated the meat…


Margarita’s shrimp ceviche

1 kilo of shrimp
2 tomatoes
1 onion
Cilantro
2 sour oranges
4 limes
Salt to taste
Olive oil

Chop the onion into thin slices and let sit in salted water for 5 to 10 minutes (or do as Margarita, a local Esmeraldas cook would, by cutting the onion into thin slices and place them, in your hands, under running water for a few seconds while squeezing to remove the bitterness, then leave aside in a bowl with some salt). Peel, devein and clean the shrimp and place them for no more than two minutes in a pot of boiling water, separated from the flame, until they look orange/pink. Drain the shrimp but do not lose the boiled water. Place the shrimp in a bowl in the refrigerator. Squeeze the oranges and lemons in a bowl and add a half cup of the shrimp juice. Add the onion and chopped herbs. Peel the tomatoes and with the fork, mash the tomato with salt and pepper. When the shrimp have cooled, join all ingredients together and add salt and olive oil to taste.

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