Essential T: Ecuadorian Tamales at Rinconcito Ecuatoriano

Expand your South American food IQ with a pair of Ecuador’s traditional tamales

Despite our city’s diverse Latino population, Ecuadorian cuisine has almost completely eluded L.A. But that didn’t stop one local gem, Rinconcito Ecuatoriano, from participating in the patriotic Latin American Independence days celebrations going on this past month. With all the fiestas patrias going on, September is a great month to shine a light on some delicious foods from lesser known cuisines, like these humitas and bollos de pescado.

Humitas, which are also found in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, are fresh corn (choclo) tamales mixed with cheese and raw eggs then steamed in corn husks. And they are always available at Rinconcito Ecuatoriano. They can be sweet or savory, and on weekends you can sometimes get the less common bollo de pescado, or fish tamal. Tuna is stewed in a mixture of well-seasoned tomato, onion, and achiote then packed in masa made from green plantain and peanut paste. After being moistened with chicken stock, the whole package gets steamed in banana leaves.

Besides the interesting tamales at this Lawndale gathering of the small-but-proud L.A. Ecuadorian community, you can find typical dishes like llapingachos (potato cakes), or the street food classic, bolon verde—green plantain croquettes stuffed with cheese. If you’re stopping by on a weekend for the bollo de pescado and see horneado on the menu you’re in for a treat: roasted pork leg. So bring a few friends and raise your glass for Ecuador.

Rinconcito Ecuatoriano, 14607 Prairie Ave., Lawndale, (310) 973-1150