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Blog Article

At The Table With…Jenny Carr

Feb 11, 2023

Jenny Carr

Corporate Director, Food & Beverage
Davidson Restaurant Group

I’ve always believed that there is no truer experience when traveling than when you truly understand the love of food through the soul of local cuisine. My passion for travel led me to jump into the unknown and join the Peace Corps after graduating college.

My assignment was to work in Youth & Families Development in Ecuador, a small country sandwiched between Colombia and Peru and sits right on the Equator. After 3 months of training, we were sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers and sent to our work sites which would be home for the next 2 years. My primary assignment was working with disabled youth in both a classroom setting and therapy setting ranging from sports to life skills development.

  • Visiting the middle of the Earth with friends
  • Teaching Special Education with one of my students
  • My entire special education class
  • Pulling down naranjas (oranges) and Papayas from the tree with my host family

My host mom was from Esmeraldas, an Afro-Ecuadorian coastal town in Northwestern Ecuador. The cuisine relies on what’s native to the area: coconuts, green plantains, cassava and the abundant supply of fresh seafood. I was not a great cook, but my host mom insisted on teaching me. We chatted in my broken Spanish, sometimes even through post-it notes as I began learning new words while making Encocado, a traditional Creole dish from Esmeraldas. It was magical, not only because I cooked it without ruining it, but the true nature of cooking from scratch transformed me and laid the foundation for my love of great, simple food.

Encocado de Camaron o Pescado (Shrimp or Fish in Coconut Sauce)


  • 2 ½ lbs fresh shrimp or fish filets, cut into medium sized pieces
  • ¼ cup lime juice (juice of about 2 limes)
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground achiote or ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • Pinch of salt


  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped finely
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • Fresh shredded coconut (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  • White rice
  • Fried green or ripe plantains


  1. Mix the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, cumin, achiote, coriander and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Add the shrimp or fish, mix together, cover and let stand in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours.
  3. Heat the oil to prepare the refrito (base) for the sauce. Add the onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the coconut milk to the refrito, mix it well and cook for about 10 minutes. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can thicken the sauce by adding ½ tsp of tapioca starch or corn starch.
  5. Add the shrimp or fish with the marinade to the sauce. Cover partially and let simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. The exact time will vary based on the thickness of the fish. You can also reduce the cooking time by increasing the heat if you want it ready faster.
  6. Add some freshly grated or shredded coconut (optional).
  7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with white rice and fried green or ripe plantains