Fanesca is a stew based on tender grains and dried fish that is prepared in Ecuador during Lent. There are a number of beliefs and legends that give clues to its origins. One maintains that a French chef was brought in by the Spanish to create a “heavy” dish to serve as penance at Easter or that a woman named Juana invented the dish in a Quito monastery and for that reason it was originally called Juanesca. However, a study carried out by the group “Rescue of the traditional flavors of Ecuador”, maintains that the origins of this Ecuadorian dish go back to pre-Hispanic stages.


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  • 1 History, Culture and Tradition
  • 2 Recipe
    • 1 Ingredients
    • 2 Refried ingredients
    • 3 Ingredients decorations
  • 3 Procedures and Techniques
  • 4 Curiosity
  • 5 Sources

History, Culture and Tradition

There are various accounts of the origin of this dish. One maintains that a French chef was brought in by the Spanish to create a heavy plate to serve as penance at Easter or that a woman named Juana invented the dish in a Quito monastery and for that reason it was originally called Juanesca.

However, a study carried out by the group “Rescue of the traditional flavors of Ecuador”, maintains that the origins of this Ecuadorian dish go back to pre-Hispanic stages.

“Not many years ago we understood that the fanesca came from the evangelizing cuisine that America had from the 16th century onwards , now we understand that more than 4,000 years ago there were cultural traditions in the festivities of the sun with typical grains. These are the beginning of a fanesca that was complemented by products that came with colonial cuisine, “said Carlos Gallardo, executive director of Rescate de las flabores Ecuador.

The indigenous people who inhabited the region (which is now Ecuador) celebrated Muchuc Nina (New Fire Day) in the season that currently corresponds to March, where they cooked tender grains with Andean pumpkins, taking advantage of the start of the young harvest, the study indicates.

The Mushuc Nina was held in commemoration of the equinox solstice where the sun takes a perpendicular position on the equinoctial line eliminating all shade, the indigenous people prepared for this celebration with fasting and sexual abstinence.

The culinary preparation with tender grains and Andean pumpkins that the indigenous people made on the Day of the new fire, was later known as Uchucuta, a Quichua term that means tender grains cooked with chili and herbs, possibly this was accompanied with wild guinea pig meat.

During the colony, in the period of [[evangelization ○ 3], the Spanish combined Catholic symbols and beliefs with indigenous elements, it was their strategy to achieve cultural miscegenation. It is interesting to see that in March, the time of Muchuc Nina, there is Easter; on June the natives celebrated the Inti Raymi (festival of the sun), in Catholicism Corpus Cristi is acclaimed; and in December, when Christmas is celebrated, there was the Capac Raymi festival (major festival of the sun).

The culinary also becomes an interrelation of the religious calendar , the agrarian calendar, the protocol and other elements of symbolic production. In the case of Holy Week, the Spanish combined the commemoration of the death, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ with the indigenous Muchuc Nina ritual, creating a preparation based on tender grains, which, with the influence of the conquistadors, included this stew. some grains, dairy and fish that was salted and dried to prevent spoilage.

The Spanish incorporate in the culinary part beans, lentils, peas, strengthen trade between the mountains and the coast, allowing products such as bananas, peanuts and fish to be found in areas of the mountains, elements that are part of the Fanesca.

By the 19th century, Easter was already celebrated in Quito with the dish formally called Fanesca that would become the essential element of the celebration.



  • 4 liters of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled tender beans
  • 3 cups of shelled tender corn and peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups young beans, shelled
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 225 g of salted dried cod
  • 1 1/2 cups of squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of young zambo without rind or seeds
  • 1 cup of very finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup SUPER EXTRA cooked rice

Refried ingredients

  • 2 butter spoons
  • 2 tablespoons of colored oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup roasted and ground peanuts
  • 2 liters of liquid
  • 1 1/2 liters milk, 1/2 cup fish soak and grain cooking water
  • 1/2 Cup of milk cream
  • 1/2 cup peeled cunt

Ingredients decorations

  • 3 boiled eggs, sliced
  • Pickled chili
  • Fresh cheese
  • Sliced ​​fried maqueño
  • Fried dumplings
  • Parsley
  • Preparation

Procedures and Techniques

From the day before, soak the fish in enough cold water, so that it is completely submerged. Cook the beans in the shell in 1 liter of unsalted water for 20 minutes or until smooth. Peel them while they are hot. (If the cold peels melt). If the corn is very tender and with small grains, do not peel each grain, just cook them and cut them down. Cook the other grains (corn, beans, peas), one by one, in a pressure cooker only until they are soft, that is, 5 to 7 minutes. Always save the cooking water and use the same unsalted water to cook the other beans. The preparation of the grains can be done the day before. Cook the squash, the zambo and the cabbage in a pressure cooker for 5 minutes in a little unsalted water. Drain well and save. Cook SUPER EXTRA rice in 1 cup of unsalted water in a pressure cooker until very smooth. In a large pot prepare the rehash. Fry the white onion and garlic in the butter over low heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add the pepper and cumin and fry for 1 minute. Take the fish out of the water and cut it into medium pieces. Keep water and fish aside. Mix the cooking water from the grains, 1/2 cup of the fish soaking water and enough milk to make 2 liters of liquid. Blend the peanuts with a cup of this liquid. Add it to the refried with the mixture of milk, cream, squash, zambo, cabbage and rice. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring until a very creamy and consistent mixture is obtained. Add corn, beans, broad beans, and peas. Simmer steadily, moving to avoid settling. Take care that the grains are not burned or crumbled. At the end add the cunt. Check the seasoning and if salt is missing add a little more of the fish soak. Serve each dish garnished with fried dumplings, egg, parsley, chili, cheese, and maqueño.

  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook in a regular pot 3 times longer than indicated. The ingredients of the fanesca vary according to the region.


  • Currently Fanesca is a traditional dish full of mysticism for all the beliefs that accompany the preparation. They say that this dish is made with twelve grains that represent the apostles and the tribes of Israel and that the cod symbolizes Jesus Christ, also, the ingredients are related to different characters of the Catholic faith.


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