A trip to the pristine Galápagos Islands is an experience you’ll long remember. With incredible scenery, abundant wildlife, sandy beaches, and unique activities to keep you busy and provide opportunities to relax, the only other things you’ll need are delicious local dishes to make your stay complete.
While the islands may be isolated, you won’t suffer when it comes to offerings of delicious gourmet dishes. The Galápagos Islands chefs pull from local ingredients while also keeping their Ecuadorian culture intact. As a result, restaurants located on the islands can provide gastronomic experiences from the high-end to the casual.
Naturally, many of the dishes served on the islands revolve around the abundance of fresh seafood, or fruits of the sea, without endangering any of the species found there. You’ll also find traditional Ecuadorian meals of meat, potatoes, and rice, as well as exotic fruits grown on the islands.
Consider trying these nine spectacular dishes that the Galápagos Islands should already be famous for, and enjoy the best these islands have to offer.
The local seafood specialty of red and green spiny lobsters is perhaps the Galapagos Islands famous food of all time. The word encocado itself refers to cooking in coconut and is often combined with various types of seafood. But it’s the lobster cooked in coconut milk you’ll want to try. Besides, what corresponds better with island living than lobster and coconuts?
Simmering together coconut milk, peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, orange, and lime, you in for a treat with this dish. Once strained, this flavorful liquid is served with the langostina, or lobster, creating a meal you’ll want to enjoy several times during your visit.
Expect something out of the ordinary when you order Arroz Marinero, the islands’ famous seafood rice dish. For this particular specialty, various shellfish, like shrimp and mussels, are mixed with their natural juices and a unique group of vegetables. These may include yucca, avocado, onion, chili peppers, or even plantains.
The seafood and vegetable mix is then served over rice. The rice itself is not plain by any means. Instead, it is combined most often with garlic, pepper, coriander, and the locally grown spice known as achiote.
You may also want to try a special version of this dish, consisting of rice with camarones. Camarones are similar to shrimp and are a commonly found food in Galapagos dishes.
Islands and ceviche naturally go together, and in the Galápagos, one delectable version is made with a special local treat. Canchalagua, a type of mollusk endemic to the islands, comes in round black shells and is considered a delicacy. Its flavor resembles that of clams or other shellfish, and its slightly rubbery texture might remind you of octopus.
Combined with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and lemon juice, this ceviche is a secret you’ll want to share with other travelers as well as your friends back home. Canchalagua Ceviche is particularly popular in high-end restaurants on the island of San Cristobal.
A traditional soup served on the Galápagos Islands is the Sopa Marinera, or seafood soup. While restaurants may slightly differ in its main ingredients, the most commonly used seafood includes clams, shrimp, crab, and various locally sourced fish.
The broth itself is prepared specifically to bring out the flavors of the seafood and may include both red and white onions, tomatoes, ground peanuts, white wine, coriander, achiote, bay leaf, olive oil, flour, salt, and pepper.
A creamy, peanut-based, stew-like soup with local vegetables, Sopa Marinera is popular throughout the Galápagos and already one of its most famous dishes.
Sopa Biche is a soupy Ecuadorian dish with a bulky consistency and a strong seafood aroma. The flavors of this soup are as remarkable as the aroma and well worth trying while on the Galápagos.
Featuring the highly prized Corvina, a firm, white fish with a sweet, mild taste, this dish is prepared with peanuts, onions, corn, yucca, plantains, and cilantro. Corvina inhabits the islands’ coastal areas and is enjoyed in several different ways, including raw, grilled, or in this type of tasty soup.
A thick fish-based soup, Encebollado is perhaps the most popular dish throughout all of the Galapagos Islands. Consisting of boiled cassava (yucca), the freshest albacore tuna, onions, tomato, pepper, and coriander, this delicious soup is filling and delicious any time of day.
It is also rumored that Encebollado is essential for anyone imbibing a little too heavily the night before, providing an effective hangover relief so you can get back to experiencing the island beauty quicker.
If you’re not overly fond of seafood or need a change of pace during your island visit, you can order a meaty version of a Seco dish. Choose between different types of meat, each being slow-cooked within a flavorful, fragrant sauce. Seco de Pollo consists of chicken, while other options include lamb (Borrego or Cordero), goat, or beef.
Whichever flavorful meat you choose, it is then served over rice, with avocado slices and fried plantains on the side. Add a salad to include more vegetables, and you have an Ecuadorian-style meal complete with everything you need.
For the vegetarians in the group, options can be limited, but this is one you’ll want to try. Essentially, Arroz con Menestra resembles a lentil stew, consisting of lentils grown in the area and often combined with other types of beans. You can also order this with fried or roasted meat if you like and enjoy a side of avocado slices and patacones, which are thick slices of fried plantains.
For a unique morning treat, give these popular breakfast dumplings a try while in the Galapagos Islands. Consisting of cheese and meat encased in mashed plantains, Bolon de Verde provides a unique taste and texture. Add a side of exotic fruits found on the island, such as guava, papaya, plantains, or tree tomato. Or order up a juice or smoothie. Add to that a cup of the specialty coffee known as Arábiga Bourbon Antiguo, a rare treat found on the islands.
As you can see, gastronomy on the Galapagos Islands is alive and well and waiting for you. All nine of these authentic dishes are exquisite in taste and beautiful in presentation, so much so you’ll remember them long after you return home.
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