Cebollas encurtidas or pickled onions are the most basic curtido and are served with a lot of different dishes, they are basically the same as the onion and tomato curtido but without the tomato and cilantro, though cilantro is sometimes added to onion curtido. Occasionally onion curtido will be made with white onions , but most of the time they are made with red onions, though in Ecuador we use a different variety of red onion, called cebolla paiteña. It is smaller and slightly spicier and almost looks like a large shallot, but unlike a shallot it doesn’t get as sweet when cooked.
Cebollas encurtidas are Ecuadorian pickled red onions made by marinating thinly sliced red onions with lime juice and salt.
- 2 small red onions
- Juice of 3 limes
- 1 tablespoon oil (avocado, sunflower, light olive oil, or any mild flavored oil)
- 1 tablespoon salt + more to adjust taste
- Cut the onion in half, slice very finely (a mandolin is very helpful with this part) and place in a bowl
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and a squeeze of lime juice, let rest for about 10 minutes
- Cover the onions with lukewarm water and let rest for another 10 minutes
- Rinse and drain the onions
- Add the lime juice, salt and the oil, and mix well.
- Cover the onions and place in the fridge, the onions will start to turn pinkish after about 3 hours, and will turn very pink if left overnight. Taste again before serving and add salt if needed.
When I buy red onions to make curtido I try to find the smallest ones possible, it makes it easier to eat when the you don’t have extremely big slices of onion. There are plenty of versions of pickled onions, some add a little bit of sugar, vinegar, etc, but the Ecuadorian method is the most straightforward way I’ve seen to make them.
Step by step preparation photos for cebollas encurtidas or lime pickled red onions