One of the must try dishes in Ecuador is seco de chivo. Seco de chivo is a goat stew served with rice, avocado and sweet fried plantains.
Ecuador may be a small country but its food is very diverse. The geography of Ecuador determines what people eat in different parts of the country.
In the Andes, Ecuadorian food is full of pork and root vegetables like yuca. On the coast, it’s common to have seafood with coconut milk and rice, whereas the Amazon has the most unusual food of it all – albeit not so tasty in the heart of the Amazon.
What are secos?
Secos are thick Ecuadorian stews, usually served with some type of rice and fried plantains. This thick stew is made for many special occasions in Ecuador.
How to make seco de chivo
Traditionally, seco de chivo was made with chicha, a fermented corn beverage favored by the Incas. Nowadays, beer is more common. Tart fruit juices are often added as well for added flavor and to offset any gaminess.
Goat meat needs to be cooked low and slow to make it tender given its gaminess and tough tendons. You can also use a pressure cooker on occasions to cut down on the cooking time.
There are various ways to prepare seco de chivo in terms of the sauce for the stew. The most common one is using naranjillas (Solarum quitoense). Naranjillas, also known as lulos in Colombia, are small, tart, citrusy fruits, original to Ecuador. Other versions include bitter orange juice, pineapple juice, tamarind juice and beer.
The key takeaway is that you need some acidity in the sauce in order to break down the meat and make it tender. The juice is added to the meat, and then cooked for hours. Another traditional way of preparing seco de chivo is using chicha de jora, which is a fermented drink made out of a type of corn, known as jora.
In remote regions of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon, chicha is still prepared by women who chew the jora and mix it with their saliva. They then spit out this chewed corn in a common bowl and let it ferment. Are you hungry yet? Don’t worry, we won’t be chewing and spitting anything out here.
Seco de chivo is common in regions of Ecuador and Peru. It can be made with any type of meat. According to the Peruvian dictionary, seco is a stew of beef, kid or other animal, macerated in vinegar, served with rice and a sauce of chili, huacatay, lemon and culantro. Thus, its main characteristic is to marinate and stew the meat with some type of acid sauce, such as chicha, beer, naranjilla or vinegar as we mentioned before.
What is the origin of seco?
The place where it was created for the first time is not known exactly. There are references that indicate that it could be a well-known stew in Peru and Ecuador as early as the 19th century. There is no agreement on the origin of the name of the dish. It is thought that when cooking the stew, the water should evaporate to get a degree of dryness, hence it must be “dry” (seco).
One of the most accepted references is that the name of seco comes from the Peninsula of Santa Elena, where at the beginning of the 20th century, oil works were done in Ancon. At that time, deer and creole goats were abundant (in fact, goat seco was originally from the province of Guayas) and with them, a very simple stew was prepared that was accompanied by red rice, as in Ecuador, it is customary to serve lunch with a soup of entrance and bottom plate that is called “second”, to which the English workers said “second” which, by derivation, led to “seco”.
In general, the “dry goat” (seco de chivo) in the mountains of Ecuador is accompanied by white rice or rice cooked with achiote, fried ripe bananas, potatoes and avocado, while on the coast (for example, the seco manabita) is accompanied by cooked or fried yucas and a salad.
What is seco de chivo?
Seco de chivo is a dish eaten in the provinces of Loja, Santa Elena and Guayas. It is a stew that derives from the kid to the northern Peruvian. In some cases, goat meat is replaced by sheep meat, although the dish is still called in the same way.
There are a number of different kinds of seco: chicken, beef, lamb and cow stomach. A restaurant will usually serve a few different kinds on the same day. Seco is usually an inexpensive and filling option. It’s very flavorful and the meat is tender because it’s been stewed for hours.
It is quite ironic that this dish is called a seco as it means dry in Spanish, but the meat is served with the stew sauce. One explanation is that secos are made with a mix of dry seasonings. As with most Ecuadorians, secos are not spicy.
Where is goat meat popular?
Goat is a staple in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and a delicacy in a few European cuisines. The cuisines best known for their use of goat include African cuisine, Middle Eastern, North African, Indian, Indonesian, Nepali, Pakistani, Mexican, and Caribbean. Cabrito, or baby goat, is a very typical food of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico; in Italy it is called capretto.
Goat has historically been less commonplace in American, Canadian and Northern European cuisines but has become more popular in some niche markets, including those that serve immigrants from Asia and Africa who prefer goat to other meats. While in the past, goat meat in the West was confined to ethnic markets, it can now be found in a few upscale restaurants especially in cities such as New York and San Francisco.
How to cook goat meat
Goat has a reputation for having a strong, gamey flavor, but the taste can also be mild, depending on how it is raised and prepared. Caribbean cultures often prefer meat from mature goats, which tends to be more pungent; while some other cultures prefer meat that comes from younger goats that are six to nine months old. Ribs, loins, and tenderloin goat meat are suitable for quick cooking, while other cuts are best for long braising. Despite being classified as red meat, goat is leaner and contains less cholesterol, fat, and protein than both lamb and beef. It requires low heat and slow cooking to preserve tenderness and moisture.
What are the different variants of seco?
Variations of seco exist all along the coast from Lima going north to the Ecuadorian border. Beef is replaced with kid (baby goat) or lamb, and sometimes even duck. Innovative chefs have even done versions containing tender, slowly braised octopus. Presentations also vary with a preference for boiled yuca (cassava) as an accompaniment in the north versus boiled potatoes in Lima. Zapallo squash, peas, carrots, chicha, and beer are all other things that can be added or taken away at will.
As throughout Ecuador, soups and stews are an important part of the highland diet and come in countless varieties, including caldos (broth soups), sopas (thicker broth-based soups), locros (creamier and generally heartier soups), sancochos (stew like soups) and secos (stews that are usually served over rice).
Seco de chivo (goat stew) is an Ecuadorian classic that’s popular across the country. If you’re not keen on goat, look for seco de pollo, the same dish made with chicken. For a belly-warming treat on a misty highland day, try locro de papas, a smooth potato soup served with avocado and cheese.
Ecuadorian cuisine benefits from the country’s rich geographic diversity, with tropical fruits, fresh seafood and classic recipes from the campo (countryside) all contributing to the bounty of the Andean table. Many dishes have evolved over the years, blending Spanish and indigenous influences. And while it’s little known outside the country’s borders, Ecuadorian cooking offers some outstanding opportunities for food-minded adventures, with wildly different recipes and techniques varying from region to region.
So the next time you are in Ecuador or near an Ecuadorian restaurant, be sure to try the seco de chivo.
- 2 lb goat meat , bone-in, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups chicha
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons ground achiote
- 1 red onion , finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper , finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes , peeled and seeded
- 2 hot peppers , finely chopped
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 2 naranjillas (fresh or frozen), or lulos or ½ cup pure naranjilla juice
- 2 tablespoons grated panela
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cloves
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Yellow rice
- Fried ripe bananas
- Avocado slices
Season goat meat with crushed garlic, ground cumin, oregano, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and half of the chicha and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Remove the goat meat from the marinade and reserve the marinade.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil on high, and add the meat. Fry on all sides until it is golden brown.
Reduce the heat and add the onions, bell peppers, and ground achiote. Cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a blender, mix the tomatoes, cilantro, hot peppers, the rest of the chicha and the naranjilla.
Pass the sauce through a sieve and add it to the meat.
Also add the reserved marinade, grated panela and allspice.
Mix well and cook covered for 10 minutes over high heat.
Then reduce the temperature and simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.
Serve seco de chivo with yellow rice, ripe plantain and fried avocado.