why we really miss costa rica and wanted to make a meal to help us remember
Typical Costa Rican fare is simple, but delicious. When one goes out to eat in Costa Rica, one goes to a soda, or small family-owned restaurant. For breakfast, there's gallo pinto, or rice and beans mixed together. For lunch, there's casado, or a plate that usually consists of rice, beans, a small piece of meat (or vegetables, for vegetarian), and either plantains or yucca. The plantains can either be maduros, soft and simmered in cinnamon and sugar, or tostones, crispy and fried in oil and salt. For a drink, they serve batidos, which are fruit juice blended to make it frothy. Guanabana, or soursop juice, is a popular pairing for casado. Here's what casado looks like when actually in Costa Rica:
my mouth is watering at the memory
For our recreation, I google'd like crazy. I was surprised at the lack of recipes, but pieced together my own recipe from a large number of others. In reality, each soda has its own version of casado, so this recipe is for the version I would serve, if I were to own a soda. I can't guarantee it tastes exactly spot on, but the concept holds true.
Simmer diced onions and peppers and some garlic in a little oil until the onions are translucent. Add one cup rice, mix until it's been covered with oil. Add one cup water and cook as normal. Basmati is best.
For the Beans:
Simmer diced onions and some garlic until onions are translucent. Add a can of black beans and simmer until finished.
For the Side Salad:
In Costa Rica, this is often cabbage with maybe just shredded carrot. If you want to get really fancy, look up a Heart of Palm salad.
For the Tostones:
Take a plantain. Slice it shortways, into pieces about half an inch thick. Fry each in oil, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from oil, flatten with either a spatula or all at once by pressing down with a plate. Dip each in cold water before returning it to the oil for about one minute per side, until crispy.
For the Chicken:
I simmered chicken in a saucepan with chicken broth and more onions and peppers. Seasoned with salt and pepper.
For the Guanabana Batidos:
Buy guanabana nectar from a store like Food City. The kind we got came in a can. All I did was pour it in the blender with a tad bit of milk and some ice, then blended until it was nice and frothy. It should separate quickly into juice and froth, you can continually stir it up before you drink it or drink it just that way.
So there you have it. We found that this healthy dose of casado, along with a long round of looking at pictures and sharing memories, was the best cure for Costa Rica longing we could cook up here in the States.