Maito: A dish not to be missed in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest

Maito: A dish not to be missed in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest

Let me introduce you to one of the traditional, not to be missed dishes in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest: maito.

The Amazon basin contains the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world — more than 5,600 species to be exact. This is the reason to find fish as one of the traditional dishes in this area.


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What is it and how is it prepared

Maito is a traditional dish that has as main ingredient, fish and has strong Inca influences.


Maito is prepared cooking on a banana leaf, bijao, a tradition found in different parts of the Amazon.

After doing some research I found a recipe that suggests to to first place 5 leaves of bijao over the grill or fire to make them softer or more bendy.

After that the fish is tightly wrapped in bijao leaves, a technique that has been used in the past in the Amazon Rainforest during hunting and fishing days.

What it tastes like

In the past the fish flavor would come from the leaves. Nowadays we have tasted some tasty options, that are seasoned with salt, garlic and onion.  Both recipes, make that the juices and aromas of the ingredients give the unique flavour to this dish.  When you eat it, you can feel the white flesh of the fish melting in every bite.

Should you taste this dish?

Definitely! It is tasty and it is a must if you are in the Amazon Rainforest and like to fully embrace the experience.




How to eat maito

This is a tasty dish served with products that are cultivated by the Chagramamas (women of the land) such as: yucca, plantain, chontacuro, potato, among others.  Most places will serve maito with a cold glass of guayusa (tea made from the leaves of a caffeinated Amazonian holly tree)

Where to eat it maito in Pastaza

We had the opportunity to visit two wonderful restaurants in the city of Puyo offering tasty traditional dishes from the region, including maito.

The first one offers a more modern twist on maito, fried and served with patacones. The restaurant is called Mokawa and is located in the city of Puyo. Here is their Facebook page with their address, opening hours and details.

The second option worth visiting is restaurant Ushu Manka Puyo! I leave you their Facebook page where you find their address and contact information.

When you come to the Amazon you must ask for this special dish that will make you feel the magic of the jungle.

Places to visit

Make sure to explore the Yasuni National Park, and if possible stay with the Kichwa Ecolodge for an authentic experience. Another great option if you are in Pastaza province, and if you are into holistic healing and ecotourism is to visit Las Yapas Holistic Center


What to bring

There are some special items and clothes that can make your visit to this humid, and warm region of the country more pleasant, we have this packing list for your visit to the Amazon Rainforest. 

Have you tasted other exciting dishes while visiting the Amazon Rainforest? Let me know here!





Want to Learn to make some of these dishes and many more? This book : Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, comprises 500 well written recipes from all Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, providing great information and recipes of the exciting food you can prepare at home while you plan your visit to South America.

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Take a look at this list of travel resources to plan your trip and travel in South America.

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Maito: A dish not to be missed in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest

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