Esmeraldas, as many an Ecuadorian would know, is well beloved for its food. Its delicious shellfish ceviche, its magnificent encocaos of every kind of seafood, its green plantain bolón…
Fruits from the sea, river and mangroves
Esmeraldas is known for its seafood, and some of these ingredients are very specific and are central to the province’s culinary identity. Familiarize yourself with these outstanding ingredients that make Esmeraldas’ food so special…
The Esmeralda table
Green 9 is the ideal place to get to know these delights, but you cannot only enjoy excellent local dishes (and pizzas) at our TikiHouse restaurant, you can hire a local Esmeraldas chef to cook for you and prepare some of the tastiest local dishes. Or why not, try your culinary talents out and immerse yourself in the fabulous world of Ecuadorian coastal cuisine, by buying local produce and reading some of our posts, where we will share with you recipes, stories and other reasons to be passionate about Esmeraldas’ culinary culture.
The black conch
Harvested in the mangroves that dominate the Esmeraldas coastline, these small black shells are uniquely flavored and absolutely crucial when preparing the black conch ceviche (ceviche de concha), one of Ecuador’s most iconic dishes. The black conch is an emblem of the mangrove ecosystem and those who harvest them have created a very special bond with their mangrove environment, which they protect and, in these times of deforestation, for which they have created interesting community projects to safeguard their conch-harvesting culture and practices for future generations.
The blue crab
A unique crustacean: its actualy sky to deep blue with red legs and a yellow claw. In certain parts of the province, like Vuelta Larga de Rioverde, they are fattened with cassava, corn and even coconut… which guarantees unparalleled flavor.
A brackish water snail very common in encocaos (coconut-sauce stews) and ceviches throughout the province, which many outsiders consider exotic…
Esmeraldas is shrimp country. Hundreds of shrimp farms spread out along the coastal plains. However, artisanal fishermen still collect minchilla, a delicious river shrimp that occasionally can be found in dives at local fishing villages.
In Esmeraldas, several spices and herbs dominate the flavor of dishes, including basil, lemongrass, coriander and two unique herbs called chillangua and chirarán that come from the dense forests within the province.
The green plantain
One of the most important accompaniments in local Esmeraldas cuisine, is green plantain bolones and patacones… you’ll love their taste. You should also taste the very unique plantain empanadas… there’s nothing like it anywhere else on Earth (you can taste them throughout the country, since they are a staple of the Ecuadorian menu).
One of the essential ingredients in Esmeraldas is the coconut. We can even say you know you are in Esmeraldas if everything you taste has coconut in it. Coconut in a garlic sauce, a coconut milkshake, coconut in your drink any which way, coconut in your dessert (try the flan and the bite-sized cocadas!), coconut with your seafood, coconut with your chicken… you may think it exaggerated, but you will certainly understand why it is so after being exposed to it for any number of days! It’s addictive!