We’re not gonna lie, this isn’t a weeknight meal that can be simply thrown together. These tamales took us 2 days to make. Even with our trusty pressure cooker we didn’t have the stamina to power through in one evening. But the results are worth it. A tender morsel of pork embedded in masa, potato and rice with a few other things tossed in for good measure, resulted in something unusual and delicious and that’s what food explorer is all about. The banana leaf wrapping was something we had never seen before and it imparted it’s own flavor after 2 hours of boiling.
In Costa Rica making tamales are a Christmas tradition, probably because it takes a whole family and a lot of time to make them. We’re glad we tried making and we’d recommend them as a family project, just set aside a whole day or two to do it.
Here’s a recipe that we followed.
When we hear the word Tilapia we think farmed, bland fish that might as well be chicken breast. In Costa Rica, it’s actually a native species that thrives in the warm, fresh water of this tropical country and it’s an integral part of the Costa Rican diet. And we just happened to have some in the freezer. Besides ceviche, which we didn’t dare try with our fish of questionable age and provenance, there were very few actual recipes online so we made one up. A light layer of flour, a quick dip in egg wash and a bread crumb/coconut coating that got nice and crispy in the frying pan was all it took. Along with the standard rice and beans, we whipped up a mango salsa and a simple salad of avocado and cucumber sprinkled with salt and lime juice. And of course Salsa Lizano, always.
Click through for the recipes.
They keep things pretty simple in Costa Rica. Rice, beans, salad and a meat are all you need for a full meal and that’s what Casado is. This is a typical lunch in Costa Rica, which is the big meal of the day. And they say that Casado, which means marriage, is what the women made to make sure their husbands came home. It’s often served with plantain and tortillas too. For the meat, we cooked up some chicken thighs in a pepper and onion braise that turned out to be a good sauce for the rice and beans. Of course the magic ingredient that no Costa Rican would live without is Salsa Lizano, as hard-to-define as it is hard to find outside of the country. The best description we came across was a vegetarian worcestershire sauce. We remembered it well from our time in Costa Rica and had to travel deep into Brooklyn to find it. Armed with 2 big bottles of the stuff, we’re looking forward to the rest of Costa Rica week!
Click through for the Chicken recipe.