Creating Costa Rican Cuisine

October 17, 2011
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Heavy on rice and beans, Costa Rican cuisine also incorporates ingredients native to the country like beef, chicken and fish.

Costa Rican cuisine is known for being simple and not highly seasoned, which, for some, makes it less than memorable. But as you travel throughout Costa Rica, foodies can find an infusion of flavors from around the world. Whether looking for a French, Italian, Peruvian or Japanese dish, it can be found on your Costa Rica tour!

Travelers can have a true taste of Costa Rica by eating tipico at a soda, a type of diner there. At these restaurants, visitors are likely to find traditional dishes like gallo pinto for breakfast, casado for lunch, and tamales for dinner. Gallo pinto consists of rice and beans seasoned with onions, red pepper, cilantro and other spices. Usually, it will be served with either scrambled or fried eggs, a type of sour cream called natilla, bread and sometimes fried plantains.

Visitors should also look for olla de carne, a soup made of vegetables like chayote, yucca, potatoes and other veggies along with cubed meat and bones. Ceviche may also be a good dish to try in Costa Rica. Ceviche is often made up of raw fish or seafood with lime juice and other veggies. Because it is surrounded by two of the world's largest oceans, the nation has plenty of fish and other seafood available.

To get in the mood for a Costa Rica tour, try making your own gallo pinto. Here are instructions based on a recipe from Food.com:

Gallo Pinto Recipe

Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked white rice
2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 -3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro (optional)
sliced green onion (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add onion and sauté until it just begins to soften.

3. Add garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onion is golden.

4. Add spices and Worcestershire, and stir into onion and garlic.

5. Next, add the beans and then the rice.

6. Combine the rice and beans evenly and cook until mixture is heated through.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

8. Garnish with some chopped cilantro or green onions if you prefer.