Print

Llapingachos-Ecuadorian Filled Potato Cakes

These potato cakes are easy in their execution. They house salty Cotija cheese and smoky paprika-definitely a lively filling. And a mellow peanut sauce, dairy-rich and pungent with onion, is perfect to cloak each bite of this well-balanced starter to any meal. Makes 12 Cakes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Ecuadorian
Author Raghavan Iyer

Ingredients

FOR THE SHELLS

  • 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt

FOR THE FILLING

  • 2 ounces Cotija cheese crumbled (or feta)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions green tops and white bulbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 small yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chunky or smooth natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • Canola oil for pan-frying ( I used avocado oil)

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 1 large ripe Hass avocado cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Instructions

  1. To make the shells, peel the potatoes and give them a good rinse under cold running water. Cut them into large chunks. Place them in a medium-size saucepan
  2. and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer briskly until the chunks are tender when pierced with a fork or knife, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Lay out a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the pan. Set it over medium-low heat and stir the potatoes once or twice to dry them out, about 1 minute. Working in batches if necessary, transfer the chunks to a ricer and press them directly into a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle on the potato starch and salt and stir them in while the potatoes are still warm, until the dough is satin smooth. Once the dough is cool
  4. enough to handle, divide it into 12 equal portions and set them on the wax paper.
  5. To make the filling, lay out a smaller sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Combine the cheese, cilantro, scallions, and paprika in a small bowl. Divide this into 12 equal portions as well and set them on the small sheet of wax paper.
  6. One at a time, shape each portion of dough into a disk about 3 inches in diameter. Place a portion of the filling in the center and fold over the dough to cover it. Reshape each half-moon into a cake roughly 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Return each to the wax paper while you finish flattening, filling, and shaping the remaining cakes.
  7. To make the sauce, bring the milk and onion to a boil, uncovered, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the milk, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to allow it to absorb some of the onion flavor, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the onion pieces (a slotted spoon works well). Whisk in the peanut butter and salt and continue to simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and keep the sauce warm while you pan-fry the cakes.
  8. Set a wire rack over a cookie sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  9. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-size nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, place 6 of the cakes in the pan. Fry them until reddish brown and crispy on the underside, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip them over and fry on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes
  10. more. Transfer the cakes to the rack in the oven to keep warm as you finish pan-frying the remaining cakes. Add more oil to the pan as necessary.
  11. Serve the cakes warm, drizzled with the peanut sauce and topped with avocado. Pass around any extra peanut sauce for those wanting a bit more of that nutty goodness.