Morocho

There are so many things I love about Ecuador, but perhaps one of my absolute favorites is Morocho. Morocho is more of a meal than a drink. It is to Ecuador what sweet tea is to the southern United States. That is, everyone makes it differently, but most are simply delicious. The question I had about Morocho after my first experience was, “Is it a beverage or a food?” My answer, as it is with most things when given a choice, is both.
I am not going to attempt to say that there is a singular way to make Morocho. I have tried it everywhere I have been in Ecuador and it is decidedly different everywhere I have gone. That being the case, there are a few ingredients, that are noticeable, that are the same – milk, cracked choclo (or hominy in the United States), and sugar. Usually there is cinnamon and other spices also. If this sounds like rice pudding, that is the first thing that came to mind.
The other common denominator is Morocho is usually served hot. I am not sure what it would taste like cold, but I am sure it wouldn’t be that bad. In fact, I was thinking a Morocho smoothie or shake might not be a bad idea. And if you wanted to take it one step further, you could make Morocho ice cream which I have not seen anywhere. However you drink it, it is a must when visiting Ecuador. And if you are fortunate enough to live here, there are plenty of options when finding the perfect cup of Morocho to fit your palate.
If you are like me, you’ll want to learn to make your own Morocho so I have included a base recipe for you to experiment with. This is NOT a traditional recipe, but part of my quest to turn the typical food her in Eucador into Comida not-so Tipica Enjoy!

Recipe:

1⁄2 lb dried cracked corn
8 3⁄4 cups milk
2 sticks cinnamon (or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
3 ounces raisins (optional)
1 orange rind, grated
2 fresh lemon rind, grated
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
8 cloves (optional)

The first think you need to do is soak the cracked corn. I would suggest two parts water to one part corn. Since this recipe makes quite a bit of Morocho, you’ll want to soak the corn overnight. For the best results, I would suggest soaking it for a full 24 hours.

Drain the cracked corn and cook in a pressure cooker in a small amount of water for 15 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, a regular pot with a good fitting lid will work, but you’ll need to cook it on low heat for 30-45 minutes.

While the corn is cooking, add all the other ingredients except for the sugar in vanilla in a large pot and begin to cook on a low heat stirring frequently until it is fragrant.

Once the corn is done, add it to the liquid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Just before you take it off the stove, add the sugar and vanilla.

Note: I personally do not like raisins or cloves so I leave them out. I also add a little corn starch to thicken it a bit. It took me four attempts, but on the fifth time, I got it perfect.

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