Llapingachos (yah-peen-GAH-chos), a traditional Ecuadorean dish, are potato pancakes made from mashed potatoes seasoned with onions and stuffed with cheese.
Llapingachos are typically served with a creamy peanut sauce called salsa de mani, and they are often an accompaniment to fried eggs, chorizo sausage, avocado, and a simple salad for a complete meal. They are also sometimes served as an appetizer with hot pepper sauce and a sliced onion salad, such as salsa criolla.
The first step is to steam the potatoes—keep the skins on to retain flavor and to prevent water from soaking the potatoes as they steam; the pancakes are easier to cook if the dough is not overly wet. You might need to add some flour to the dough to achieve the correct texture, even though this is not generally mentioned in traditional Ecuadorean recipes.
- 5 to 6 Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil, divided
- 1 package Sazon Goya with achiote, or 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon achiote powder
- 1 cup shredded white cheese such as queso fresco, mozzarella, Monterey Jack
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, as needed
- Salsa de Mani (peanut sauce)
- Put the potatoes into a steamer basket over a large pot filled 2/3 of the way to the top with water (make sure water isn't touching the bottom of steamer basket).
- Heat the water over medium heat until it is boiling, cover with a lid and steam the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of potatoes. Check occasionally and refill the water level in the pot as needed.
- Remove from the heat, cut each potato in half, and let them cool until they can be handled.
- Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook until onions are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the Goya seasoning and cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Peel the potatoes and press them into a ricer or mash them until smooth. Add the seasoned onions to the potatoes and mix well. Add the cheese and mix well.
- Season the potato mixture with salt and pepper to taste. The potato mixture should be firm enough to shape pieces of it into balls, like dough. If the mixture is too wet and sticky, mix in some flour until it has the right consistency.
- Shape the potato mixture into round patties, about 3 inches in diameter and about 1/2-inch thick.
- Heat the remaining oil, or as much as needed, in a heavy skillet.
- Cook the potato pancakes in batches over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown.
- Keep the potato pancakes warm in the oven, about 200 F, until ready to serve. Serve with salsa de mani.