Many expats become enamored with Costa Rican food and want to learn how to prepare it. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to find a cooking class here by checking on the Internet (Facebook) or in the local newspapers and yellow pages.
If you don’t have time to take a formal cooking class, a Costa Rican recipes can be found online at sites like: www.food.com/recipes/costa-rican or http://recipes.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Costa_Rican_Recipes to name.
In addition, there is a wide choice of cookbooks with the most popular Costa Rican recipes in both Spanish and English.
- “Traditional Costa Rica Cookbook: Quick and Easy Recipes,” by Astrubal Leiva avaialable through amazon.com
- “The Best Recipes of Costa Rica,” published by Jadine Press
- “Cocina Tradicional,” also published by Jadine Press
- “Rice and Beans Comidas Afro-Limonenses,” published by Sandy
- “Comidas Ticas,” by Carmen de Musmani
- “Gallo Pinto, Recetas Tradicionales,” by Andrea Corrales
- “Costa Rica’s Best Dishes,” by Dorotea
Here are some typical Costa Rican foods:
- Casado consists of rice and beans served side by side instead of mixed. There will usually be some type of meat (carne asada, fish, pork chop, or chicken) and a salad to round out the dish. There may also be some extras like plantains (patacones or maduro), a slice of white cheese, and/or corn tortillas.
- Ceviche is a popular and consists of fresh raw fish (tilapia or corvina – white sea bass) marinated in lime juice with finely chopped cilantro and spices. Please see the recipe below.
- Chorreadas are corn pancakes served with natilla (sour cream).
- Gallo Pinto is usually eaten for breakfast and consists of rice mixed with black beans, served with natilla (sour cream), eggs (scrambled) and fried plantain.
- Olla de carne which is a soup with chunks of beef, potatoes, carrots, chayote, plantains and yucca.
- Tamales Every good Tico eats tamales for Christmas (Navidad). A tamal is a seasoned corn meal which is covered in boiled plantains leaves. In the inside, it has rice, beans, vegetables and meat.
These are three Costa Rican recipes to get you started:
Gallo Pinto (Rice and Beans)
Gallo Pinto is eaten nationwide. Most people eat it for breakfast. Others for lunch or dinner. Makes 3 to 4 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
- 2 cups of cooked long grain rice
- 1 cup of red or black small cooked beans (“frijol criollo”)
- 1/2 cup of finely diced white onions
- 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (“Culantro de Castilla”)
- Salt to taste
- Lizano Sauce (“Salsa Lizano” is a mild sauce used on every day
cooking in Costa Rica)
Place vegetable oil on a frying pan and heat for approximately 1 minute. Sauté onions until caramelized. Add entire pot of cooked beans and its gravy into the sautéed onions. Stir over low-medium heat for a minute. Combine cooked rice to sautéed bean mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add cilantro. Cook on high heat and quick. Serve immediately and add the Lizano Sauce to taste.
Ceviche de Corvina
- 1 lb. corvina (seabass), cut in small pieces
- 3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon celery, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 cups lemon juice
- Salt, pepper and Tabasco Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcester Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Let it stand for at least four hours in the refrigerator.
Serve chilled in small bowls topped with catsup and soda crackers on the side. Serves 8.
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
Preheat oven at 350F. Sift baking powder. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add flour to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, until well blended. Pour into greased rectangular Pyrex dish and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Let cool. Pierce with a fork and cover. For the filling combine 2 cups of milk, 1 can of condensed milk and one can of evaporated milk. Pour this mixture over the cool cake. To make the topping, mix 1 1/2 cups of half and half, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a cup of sugar. Whip together until thick. Spread over the top of the cake. Keep refrigerated. Serves 12.
About the author
Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours and writing retirement guidebooks for more than 30 years. See www.liveincostarica.com. He has a relocation/retirement blog at: http://www.liveincostarica.com/blog and is also the author of the one-of-a-kind bestselling e-book, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that can be purchased through Amazon.)