Ecuador is one of the best countries to find exotic foods and drinks, and its culture is rich because Ecuadorian people have preserved their traditions for centuries. Maito is a traditional dish that you shouldn’t miss when you visit Ecuador!
The Ecuadorian Amazon offers a gastronomic culture full of history, colors, tastes, textures, and beliefs, and since fish is vastly common in the surrounding areas, Maito is a typical food that includes fish. It is very popular with locals and tourists as well.
Similar preparations are also offered in the jungles of Colombia and Venezuela, and some other Caribbean nations, but no one of these can be compared to this tasty dish, which leaves tourists from all around the world hungry for more!
Origins and history
Some gastronomic researchers have set the starting point of Maito in the towns of Chimborazo and Tungurahua, since their peoples were running from the Spanish domination more than 500 years back in time. They finally moved to Pastaza and other neighboring towns, where many people think the dish has its origins. There are other versions in which they state that Maito has strong Inca influences and roots, which could have many more centuries of tradition.
Due to its consistence, it could have its origins on the antique Caribbean cuisine, where many people wrapped their foods in leaves that not necessarily were from corn.
- For example, in Colombia they prepare a dish called Chocó, very similar to Maito, and in Venezuela the indigenous tribes wrapped –and still wrap- some of their foods with bijao leaves.
The Ecuadorian Maito is a dish that may have been prepared in the indigenous tribes for those men who came back from hunting, so its origins are vastly historic and full of traditions that still nowadays we can observe.
According to many Ecuadorian chefs, much of the Ecuadorian gastronomy has this particular way of cooking with leaves. The main idea is that these leaves deposit their flavor inside the fish, or even chicken or beef. When the dish is prepared with these last ones, it is called “Ayampaco”.
There are few distinctions between Maito and Ayampaco, since both of them are prepared with the same techniques:
- To cook Maito, the chef uses a specific type of fish that can be cachama or carachama, which is a legendary fish mostly found in the Amazon, but tilapia or trucha (trout) are also very common. Then the fish is seasoned with coarse salt (better known as sea salt), and it’s wrapped in yaki-panga or bijao leaves, which are taken from these common trees in the Amazon. Once it is wrapped, it is grilled with carbon until the fish has absorbed the entire flavor from the wrapping leaves, which give it such a particular taste.
- Ayampaco has the same features; the only difference is that the main meat comes from chicken or beef, as it was stated before.
- Both dishes are served with yucca or plantain, and a hot cup of guayusa tea can’t be missed.
When you come to the Amazon you must ask for this special dish that will make you feel the magic of the jungle. Kapawi invites you to see how it is made, to save this great moment on your mind forever!