One day in Cuenca I went to my friend's apartment and he offered me some llapingachos. I couldn't remember having them before, though they are traditional Ecuadorian food. They were good. Damn good. And I set out a personal goal to try to cook it some day. Well, that day came today. Keeping with the Ecuadorian themed weekend, I invited my friends Valerie and Dan over to watch some football and cook what didn't exactly look like what's pictured above.
Llapingachos are pretty simple, but ultimately a bit tricky to make. They are potato pancakes stuffed with mozzarella cheese, topped with tomatoes, fried egg, onion, or basically whatever you want. My friend Lucho, who gave me the idea in the first place, also told me to check out Laylita's Recipes for the llapingachos. It was a life saver. All you really need is potatoes, onions, and cheese. Everything else is a bit extra, though you can obviously read through the explanation and recipe for better information.
Hungoverly, I picked up the ingredients and waited for my friends to arrive. Once here, Valerie was kind enough to do most of the work, and prepared the goods while Dan and I watched the Patriots game. Dan and Valerie are from Utah, but Dan has Tom Brady on his fantasy team, so that makes him a fan. Valerie peeled and chopped up the potatoes, boiled and mashed them, and diced up the onions and tomatoes to prepare a mixture with the mashed potatoes. We then had to wait for an hour as they cooled.
After an hour I pitched in my part, and rolled the dough into golf ball sized balls. They kept breaking up so to counter that, I made the balls bigger with more potato. Yes, my balls were big. Next, I pushed a little hole into each ball and packed them with the mozzarella. I wasn't sure of the next step, but I combined two balls and mushed them until they were fat patties. This left me with 7 fat patties of llapingachos.
They spent some time in the oven and I flipped them once, most of them breaking apart as I did this. It was a delicate game to play. I had the aji from the Ecuadorian restaurant out and couldn't stop smelling it, so excited for some spice. A Spanish friend of Valerie's came over as well, and Dan helped cut up the avocado, which it turns out was far from ripe and went uneaten. Dan had also cooked homemade empanadas before coming over, so once we took out the llapingachos he warmed up them up, and voila. We were ready to eat.
I sprinkled diced tomatoes on the llapingachos and we sat down to a traditional Ecuadorian/Argentinian dinner. Everything came out well, though I seem to remember the llapingachos tasting better in Lucho's apartment. Really, they are a side dish, though they can be turned into a meal with a fried egg, or emapanadas like we did. It was a fitting way to end an Ecuadorian weekend. Salsa, almuerzo, Ecuanapping, and llapingachos. I think next time I'll try patacones or ceviche. ¡Chévere, Boludo!
Above: Photos courtesy of Laylita's Recipes