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ILatina's Encocado de Pescado

The northern coast of Ecuador, near Esmeraldas, tastes like coconut. This area is known for its strong Afro-Ecuadorian culture, where descendants of slaves have left a strong imprint on the cuisine, much like in the Afro-Peruvian or criollo dishes to the south in Peru.

The 16th century slave ships are said to have brought along coconuts from Africa and the locals, along with know-how from the newly arrived Africans nurtured and cultivated them, leading to a powerful presence of coconut in many of the region’s dishes. Not only did they use the juice of the coconut, but the white fleshy pulp was grated from the inside of the coconut shell using the razor-sharp edges of the local clam shells.

The best known dish is an encocado, (correctly pronounced and often written encocao) which is a  dish of seafood or fish in a coconut and lime-based sauce, served alongside another Ecuadorian classic, sliced and fried plantains. Besides the coconut, another key ingredient is a local herb chillangua, if not available, cilantro can be used as a substitute.

Chef Santiago Macías, along with brother Camilo have recently opened up their ‘closed door’ restaurant, ILatina in Buenos Aires to rave reviews. Though Colombian, Santiago draws his influence and inspiration from all over the continent, here giving us his take on this Ecuadorian classic.

ILatina's Encocado de Pescado

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 whole coconut
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large fillets of white fish, such as grouper or sea bass, 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf

Get the full recipe and ingredient list.

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