Sometimes I lose track of what is in my pantry. I periodically must go in and dig around to see what I have on hand. This last time I rediscovered a couple of things that a dear friend brought for me from Ecuador several months back. One of them was a jar of refrito paste, which is a form of spice paste that has a number of ingredients including Annatto powder. Another was a jar of red palm oil, something I had never bought or cooked with before.
I decided to use these new-to-me ingredients to make Llapingachos, which are fried potato cakes originally from Ecuador. The university restaurant where I used to work had Llapingachos on the menu, but I thought that the refrito paste and the palm oil could make that recipe even better.
Today I will show you how to make this incredible dish. I deviate from the traditional recipe, so this may not be authentic. For example, instead of stuffing the Llapingachos with cheese, I mixed the cheese in throughout so that you get cheese in each bite. The refrito paste is also something that I’m not sure is generally used. To be honest I’m not 100% sure what is in it, because the ingredient list was unreadable (it was the tiniest font that I’ve ever seen!).
If you can’t find the refrito paste, you might add a couple garlic cloves, minced and a teaspoon of Annatto powder when you fry the onions. You can also find a substitute for red palm oil if you need to.
I served these potato cakes for a brunch with cooked jasmine rice, spicy green sauce, tomato salad, and fried eggs. You can add sliced avocado to this as well. My husband and son absolutely adored this meal, so I’m betting that you and your family will like it too. Please try it!
Hot pepper sauce
- 4 serrano peppers (4-5 inch long), or 3/4 cup
- 3 garlic cloves (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 green onion, thinly sliced (white and green part) or 1/2 cup
- 4 large Yukon gold potatoes cooked and peeled
- 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp refrito paste
- 1 tbsp red palm oil
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup canola oil to fry the patties
- 4 (1 1/2 cup) roma tomatoes, cut in half, seeded, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
Hot pepper sauce
To start, halves the peppers and remove their seeds and stems. Rough chop the peppers. Combine all ingredients except green onion in a blender or a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Mix in the chopped green onion and after it’s finished, taste for seasoning.
This is how I cook my potatoes: On a heavy bottom sauce pan, add 5 cups of water, 1 tbsp. of salt, and well scrubbed potatoes. Bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until you can slide fork/knife to the center of the potatoes easily.
Heat palm oil over medium-high heat on a skillet. Add onions, cook till soft, add cumin powder, salt, and refrito paste. Stir all ingredients well and cook for 30 seconds, then turn the heat off.
Mash potatoes with a fork and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add onion mixture and cheese, then mix all ingredients together.
Divide the dough into 10 equal balls. Shape the dough into thick patties.
Heat a 1/4 cup oil in a large nonstick frying pan or griddle. Cook potato patties until browned on both sides. Be careful when flipping as the dough is very delicate.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning.
Makes 10 patties
Did you make this dish? I’d love to know how it turns out! Feel free to like this post and comment or use the hashtag #globaldinein on Instagram.