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Manta - Ecuador

Pescado Encocado: Fish With Coconut Sauce

Ecuadorians eat a great amount of rice and fish, and the preparation of it is what makes it special, rice will taste different at the beach than in the highlands. The height and the weather make the preparation and flavor a bit different.

When you are on the coast the first trip in the morning is to see what was brought from the sea. So, in the different fishermen towns such as Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez, Machallilla, Ayampe. You can walk along the beach and see the catch of the day.

Many of the sea products will have a very different taste from the ones you have tried that are farmed. For example, shrimps or prawns that are caught at sea will have a richer fuller flavor.

Fish with coconut sauce is a northern Ecuadorian coastal dish that consists of a fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked a sauce of coconut milk with cilantro, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers.

If you want to make this dish, the recipe will be as follows:


  • 2 ½ lbs halibut or any other fresh fish, cut in medium size chunks
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp achiote (annatto) powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 medium sized onion sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 14 oz of coconut milk fresh or canned
  • 3 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • Fresh shredded coconut
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix the lemon and orange juice, crushed garlic, cumin, achiote, coriander powder and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Marinate the fish chunks for at least an hour if possible.
  3. Heat the oil to prepare the “refrito” or base for the sauce, add the onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the coconut milk to the “refrito” (fried onions mainly), mix it well and cook for about 10 minutes, if you prefer a thicker sauce you can thicken the sauce by adding ½ tsp corn starch dissolved in a little of cold water.
  5. Add the fish fillets, with the marinade, cover partially and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Add some freshly grated or shredded coconut (optional).
  7. Sprinkle some cilantro and serve it with rice and some fried plantains.

It is better to use also fresh coconut, and if you do, use both the coconut water and the grated coconut flesh. This dish can also be prepared with shrimp or prawns.

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Here in Start Living you will find all kind of information you need for traveling around Ecuador. We invite you to visit and discover this wonderful country and live ...

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