Several kilos of potatoes were peeled and boiled. They are special 'chollo' potatoes which desintegrate on cooking and are used for 'locro de papas' and turn out to be great for mashed potatoes. Once boiled they are cooled and mashed. Green onions ( which are called white onions here and are much larger than those I am accustomed to) are chopped into tiny pieces and sauteed in red coloured oil and added to the potatoes along with soft cheese (queso de la comida) which crumbles when chopped up and crushed. The potato mixture is kneaded and rolled into balls and flattened so that they can be fried in oil. These are the 'llapingachos'.
Preparing Potatoes and Queso de Comida
The 'salsa' is poured over the llapingachos. Three tree tomatoes are peeled and put into a blender along with one and a half 'ahi' or red chilis, water and salt. The mixture is put through a sieve to get rid of the tree tomato seeds and added to a bowl of chopped onions and tomatoes and cilantro. It is not too hot; my impression is that nothing in Ecuador is too spicy or hot, but that often various types of salsa are available 'on the side', along with tabasco sauce, for those who wish to add extra taste to their meal. A fried egg goes on top of the llapingachos and cooked chorizo (yummy!) next to it.
Beets and carrots are boiled and when cooled cut up and mixed, with chopped onion and cilantro added along with lemon juice and olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. The salad and slices of avocado (ubiquitous here) and bottles of beer complemented the meal.
Chopping up Beats and Carrots
The meal was delicious, perhaps because we worked so long in the kitchen, and our anticipation mounted with each step. It was fun to work together to create our masterpiece. When I got home this evening, I was so inspired, I finally tried a 'locro de papa', but it was not a great success because I had the wrong potatoes and the wrong cheese. It is an easy recipe; the first step is to sautee green onions with garlic, add cumin and achiote ( a red coloured spice from the jungle), throw in the peeled potatoes cut in pieces, add water and boil to cook the potatoes. The 'chollo' potatoes desintegrate with cooking and give the soup a characteristic consistency, but my potatoes maintained their forms, and when I looked for a potato masher in my kitchen I was disappointed. The cheese I had was not quite right either; it too did not desintegrate as had been described to me. Milk was added at the end along with chopped cilantro (yumm!). Maya would not touch the soup, Eric was polite; I will have the proper ingredients next time.
The meal we prepared last week in our class did not have a name, it was simply described as commonly prepared for special occasions in the rural areas. Corn on the cob was boiled (special 'soft' corn), as were 'aves' (big huge light green beans') and a potato-like vegetable. Tree tomatoes were blended with four 'ajis' (chilis), put through a sieve and added to chopped onions and choclos ( a high protein bean-like substance, very popular here) for salsa. A salad of tomatoes and onions with lemon juice and olive oil was the best part of the meal along with the tree tomato juice, which was not particularly popular with anyone else in our group, but I found delicious.
I am determined to try more Ecuadorian recipes. I have been buying the appropriate ingredients, but have been hesitant because of all the preparation time required. It always feels so much easier just to put together my own recipe and get the meal to the table quickly and efficiently.