Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ecuador and Arroz con Camarones

Over Thanksgiving I spent 2 weeks in Ecuador, 1 with the hubby to make a foursome and 1 more with our friends Matt & Mackenzie.

We started the trip in Quito, wandering, riding the gondola, climbing church spires, and eating lovely food. Quito, especially the "new town" area of la mariscal is full of international cuisine as well as classic
Ecuadorian. My recipe for Arroz con Camarones is at the end of the post.

The rest of our trip was filled with adventure and activity, and we seemed to be always hungry.  Arroz con Pollo or Arroz con Camerones (my favorite) became a staple for the evenings or afternoons when we returned from adventures starving.  My rendition can be found below.

When Matt and Mackenzie arrived, we headed south to Latacunga, and then caught a bus to Guingopana Pass where we began our hike of the Quilotoa loop. We wandered 2 hours downhill to Isinlivi and the Llullu Llama hostel. There is a trail, but we simply walked the quiet road due to the heavy fog and confusion about the start of the path. The next day we awoke to blue skies and walked the 5 hours to Chugchilan and the Black Sheep Inn.  After a relaxing afternoon of yoga and quiet, we awoke the next morning and made the 4 hour uphill ascent to the rim of Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador's crater lake, and walked the rim into town to catch a terrifying truck ride back to Latacunga.

In the morning we caught a flight to Coca in the Ecuadorian Amazon and took a 3 hour motorized canoe ride downriver to Sani Lodge.  We spent the next 4 days sleeping in tents in the jungle, hiking, and boating.  The heat and bugs were challenging, but the views and experiences with the local culture were wonderful.


After the Amazon we said goodbye to Steven and headed south to Cuenca.  Much more appealing than Quito, Cuenca is a small city filled with colonel architecture, art and artisans, and the famous Panama Hat factory.  From Cuenca we spent a day hiking in the Cajas National Park before heading north. We hiked to the high refuge on Chimborazo (~16,000 ft), and rode quads/motos around the waterfall route in Banos.
(most of the rest of these pics are from Kenz)

Our final goal was to summit the 19,347 ft Cotopaxi volcano. This second highest peak in Ecuador is only moderately technical and can be summited by most fit, acclimatized people with a guide. We went with Veloz Exepiditions based out of Riobamba, and were thrilled with the value and professionalism. The guides even cooked us a multi-course dinner at the refugio. We all summited successfully and were thankful for the beautiful weather and lack of (major) altitude sickness.

Arroz con Camarones
adapted from Laylita's

Serves 6-8
  • 2 lbs raw shrimp, shells on, deveined
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbs butter or canola oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • ½ cup of white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbs parsley, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
  • Sides:
  • Tomato and avocado
  • Aji criollo hot sauce

  1. Marinate the shrimp with salt, pepper, 1 tsp of cumin, and the crushed garlic, let rest for an hour.
  2. Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp; leave the tails on a few of the shrimp that will be used as a garnish.
  3. Boil 3 cups of water with the shrimp shells for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  4. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan; add the onions, peppers, tomatoes, ground chili, coriander, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tsp of cumin. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Add the minced garlic, cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Add the shrimp and rice and stir until rice is translucent.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the shrimp shell water. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low cover and cook until rice is tender
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir in 3 Tbs parsley.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with shrimp with tails on.
  10. Serve with avocado and tomato slices, lime slices, and of course some good aji or hot sauce.

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