Mote Pillo

Mote Pillo

Mote Pillo is a traditional breakfast in Cuenca and the surrounding region. Traditionally made with fluffy scrambled eggs, this dish is easy to veganize by swapping out the eggs for tofu. It’s the perfect breakfast to start the day, especially with a cup of strong black coffee and a few slices of avocado.

Mote Pillo is kichwa which means “wrapped mote.” Mote is an Andean variety of maize with larger kernels and less sweet than what Americans might typically find. Ecuadorians eat it with nearly every meal. This recipe calls for “mote pelado,” which is also available in cans in almost any American supermarket as hominy! I often keep a couple of cans in the pantry to make preparing this dish even quicker.

If you have an Ecuadorian store nearby, you can find “mote precocido” in the freezer. Be sure you’re not using the dry mote, which still has the tough skin, or buying anything that says something other than “precocido” or “pelado.”

This recipe makes enough for two hungry people.

  • 2 large servings
  • 5 minutes
  • 15 minutes


Mote Pillo

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil*
  • 1 container extra firm tofu (14 oz)
  • 1 cup mote pelado (hominy)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. black salt (kala namak)*
  • 1 tsp. achiote (annatto)*
  • salt and pepper to taste


Mote Pillo

  1. If using frozen mote, boil in water until soft, 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion and garlic, and saute in a pan over medium-high heat until translucent, 2-3 minutes
  3. Crumble tofu with hands into the pan, and add the turmeric and achiote. Stir until combined. As it cooks, the yellow color from the turmeric will be absorbed into the tofu and resemble eggs.
  4. Add mote, and cook until everything is hot, 5 minutes
  5. Add salt, pepper to taste

Serving suggestions: chopped green scallion, sliced avocado, ají or your preferred hot sauce, and a cup of black coffee.

* If not using oil, feel free to saute onions and garlic in water. If you can’t find achiote en polvo, feel free to omit it. It’s mostly for color. You may also omit the black salt, but it is what provides a more eggy, authentic flavor. I like it both ways.

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