I am a creature of habit when I travel.  If I find a restaurant I like, I visit it over and over.  One of the first places I discovered in Puerto Ayoro was El Chocolate.  How could I seriously pass up a place with that name?  The regular meal cost $5.00 if you looked at the menu and paid the tourist price.  How would anyone know any differently?  I guess the answer to that question is to be a local person and speak Spanish.  Locals paid a dollar less for meals.  Some time into my first week, two people from the Charles Darwin Foundation ate with me at El Chocolate.  They explained to the owner that I was a volunteer, not a tourist, and should only pay $4.00 for a meal.  It made me even a more faithful regular.

I’m not a picky eater.  If someone else prepares the food and I don’t have to make it, I almost always love it.  I finished my meal one day, and then I saw the meal someone else ordered.  In my very limited Spanish, I grabbed the waiter's arm and asked, "How do you say that in Spanish?" The answer was "Chaulafan", an Ecuadorian version of fried rice.  I was in love.  Who would have ever imagined it would have not been something chocolate?

The meat seemed to vary.  It could be chicken, pork, beef, or whatever you have in your refrigerator.  My personal favorite was shrimp, but I'm much more comfortable cooking chicken.  Make your own choice.

Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

  ¾ lb diced chicken   4 Tbs red pepper sauce
  4 cups rice   1 Tbs soy sauce
  4 eggs   1 red bell pepper diced
  salt and pepper to taste   ½ cup peas
  3 Tbs melted butter   ½ cup carrots
  ½ cup diced onions   ½ cup raisins
  4 garlic cloves (crushed)   Spicy ketchup or hot sauce
  1 tsp cumin   1 slice of tomato or 2 avocado
  3 Tbs diced coriander     ..   slices per person

Start the process by placing your chicken in a large pot.  Boil the bird for an hour until it is tender and completely cooked. 

Cook four cups of rice.  Now, I would do this in a rice cooker, but if you cook it on the stove, I read that you should use five cups of boiling water and cook for twenty minutes.  Good luck.  When it's all cooked, set it aside to cool.

While the rice is cooking, you can debone and dice the chicken.  Then, set is aside for later.  Next, you can scramble your eggs and season them to taste with salt and pepper.  Then, set them aside.  I know, it's getting to be a lot of pots and pans and my kitchen isn't so well stocked. 

In a large pan, melt three tablespoons of butter or an equal amount of olive oil.  Add diced onions, crushed garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper sauce, and soy sauce.  Cook these for five to eight minutes until the onions are golden.

Add the cooked rice, diced chicken and bell pepper to the mix.  Stir well and cook over a medium heat for five minutes.

Now, add the scrambled eggs, peas, carrots and raisins to the mixture.  Continue cooking until the mixture is completely warm.

Of course, presentation is everything.  And, that's no exception when serving Chaulafan.  I always saw it smashed into a bowl and then inverted onto a plate.  If gave a perfect mound of rice.  Drizzled around the rice was spicy ketchup or hot sauce.  Hot sauce seemed to be the condiment of choice in Ecuador.  Now, when my Chaulafan was served in Santa Cruz, a slice of a tomato was twisted on top as a garnishment.  Since I don't really like tomatoes, I'd prefer a couple decorative slices of avocado and then sprinkled with some coriander.

Copyright 2011 and 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.