The other day while exploring the new Trader Joe’s that has come to our small area of the world, I came across a package of plantain chips. As I picked it up off of the shelf I was reminded of my trip to Ecuador and the Encebollado that we feasted upon regularly. Encebollado, or tuna soup, is traditionally made with boiled yuca and topped with a pickled onion and tomato salsa (curtido de cebolla y tomate) and plantain chips. This salsa is a must-have for this dish and it gives Encebollado part of it’s name. In Ecuador this dish is found typically along the Pacific coast where massive tuna are constantly brought in from the ocean. To find a place to eat this soup all you have to do is follow the long line of people standing in front of a small push cart from which it is served. It is said to be the best hangover cure and for that it is often served early in the morning.
2 lbs fresh tuna
1 lb yuca, frozen or fresh
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
8 cups of water
5 cilantro sprigs
salt, to taste
I used frozen yuca for this dish, however you can use fresh yuca if you can find it in your supermarket. Be sure to peel the yuca very well and remove the pinkish layer below the brown skin as it is toxic. Fresh yuca tastes better, but this process can be time consuming so I prefer to use frozen yuca.
First, dice the tomatoes and onions.
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add in the tomatoes and onions, along with the cumin, chili powder, and salt to make a refrito.
Add the water and cilantro sprigs and bring to a boil.
Add the tuna and cook until it is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove the tuna from the pot and add in the yuca to the broth and bring to boil, cooking until the yuca is tender but firm, about 30-40 minutes. Break the tuna into bite sized pieces.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickled onion and tomato salsa.
Pickled Onion and Tomato Salsa Ingredients:
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
juice of 3 limes
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 tbs salt, and more to taste
To prepare the salsa, cut the onions in half and slice very finely. Place the onions in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tbs salt. Let the onions rest for 10 minutes to help remove some of the pungency. After the 10 minutes, cover the onions in lukewarm water and let rest another 10 minutes.
Rinse and drain the onions. Add the lime juice and oil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Cut the tomatoes in half and slice very finely.
Mix the onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, and add salt to taste.
Once the yuca is cooked take it out of the broth and remove the strings in the middle. Cut into bite size pieces.
Add the yuca and tuna back into the pot and add salt to taste.
Serve the Encebollado with the pickled onion and tomato salsa and plantain chips.
This is so delicious, I need to go back to Ecuador.