Ecuador Tours and Expeditions Agency

ayampaco is a traditional dish in the cuisine of Morona Santiago, Ecuador


Among all the exotic delicacies that make up the traditional cuisine of Morona Santiago, the ayampacos are perhaps the most representative snacks and most desired by locals and tourists.

This delicious dish is a bijao leaf wrapper stuffed with fish or meat of different types with yucca, chili, garlic and other natural seasonings. It has been part of Shuar gastronomy since ancient times. In the beginning, it was prepared in a simpler way, using only fish without salt or spices, which is known as “maito”.

Ayampaco, as it is called today, is the result of the intervention of the colonists who arrived in the Amazon region, who incorporated other ingredients such as chili bell pepper, palm heart, garlic, salt and other spices into the traditional “maito” recipe.

There are many types of ayampaco. They can be prepared with beef viscera, chicken viscera, ground beef, tilapia, frog, pork, chicken, and even bull testicles. For the wrapping, the bijao leaf is generally used, fastened with toquilla straw fibers. Some people also use achira or banana leaves.

Making Ayampaco at home: Ingredients

6 small river fish (or ground meat).
2 red onions
3 white onions
3 cups of grated yucca
1 sprig of cilantro
1 cup of aliño (ground garlic with pepper and salt)
Tender leaves of bijao

How to make Ayampaco step by step:

  1. Wash the fish well, drain and dry them.
  2. Marinate the fish with salt and seasoning, letting it rest for several hours.
  3. Prepare a sofrito with achiote, onions, chopped coriander, salt and pepper. Add grated yucca. Cook.
  4. Cut the thick veins of the Bijao leaves and boil them.
  5. Place two fish on a leaf and pour the sofrito on top. We wrap it with 3 more leaves and tie it with strips of vegetable fiber.
  6. We put our wrapped fish on a grill. We will know they are cooked when they have lost half of their weight.
  7. They can be served with rice.

If you visit Morona Santiago, you cannot miss the following places to taste the most delicious ayampacos:

Macas: Mama Michi Restaurant (24 de Mayo and Tarqui).
Sevilla: Yawi Market
Gualaquiza: La Y de los Ayampacos (The Y of the Ayampacos)
Sucúa: Shuar Market

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