Costa Rica Food Culture
Costa Rica food combines elements from all over the world. It is based on time-honored local traditions that existed long before any European set foot on these lands. Along the shores, you can for instance enjoy freshly caught marine fish species.
When you travel inland, it is instead chiefly lake and river living freshwater species that are found on the menu. Spanish settlers brought food traditions from Europe, and African slaves have also contributed a lot to the Costa Rica food fusion – especially along the Caribbean coast. Chinese, Italian, and France influences are also apparent. Costa Rica food is often based on rice, corn, and/or beans. Roots such as cassava, sweet potatoes, and taro roots are popular. The food is mild or slightly seasoned, and examples of commonly used spices are cilantro, annatto, saffron, thyme, and nutmeg. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available year-round and are naturally an essential part of Costa Rica food.
Costa Rica Food – Arroz Guacho
This Costa Rica food is a type of sticky rice dish with pork ribs and herbs. The chef will heat up vegetable oil or lard in a saucepan placed over medium strong heat. For eight persons, 1 lb of short pork ribs will be cut into 1-inch cubes and placed in the saucepan.
After roughly three minutes of stirring, the chef will add water until it reaches two inches above the pork ribs. The food is then left to boil until the pork has become tender. Cilantro is important in Costa Rica food. It is also known as Chinese parsley or Coriander. When the pork is tender, it is time to add one roll of chopped cilantro.
The chef will also place once crushed garlic clove, ½ cup of chopped bell pepper, ½ cup of the chopped onion together with salt and pepper in the saucepan. Finally, 1 lb of uncooked rice is added. The rice should be of the long grain variant and carefully rinsed. It is usually necessary to add more water at this point since the water should cover the food and reach one inch above the pork. The Costa Rican chef will stir once in a while to avoid scorching while the rice is cooking. When the rice is ready, the Arroz Guacho is finished.
Costa Rica Food – Ceviche
Ceviche is a Costa Rica food variant based on raw fish soaked in lime and lemon juice. It is a form of seafood salad and is usually served on lettuce or placed on crackers. Sea Bass is often used for Ceviche, but you can find restaurants that use other locally available fish species instead.
When preparing Ceviche, the chef will cut the raw fish into ½ cubes and place it in a bowl, before he or she squeezes lime and lemon over the fish. 2 lbs of fish will usually need at least 1 cup of lime juice and 1 cup of lemon juice. The bowl will then be covered and the fish left to soak. After roughly one hour, it is time to add 1 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro, ½ cup of finely chopped parsley, ½ cup of chopped purple onion, and ½ cup of minced red bell peppers.
All ingredients will be stirred together and placed in the refrigerator for 2 more hours. Right before serving, this Costa Rica food will be covered in ½ cup of olive oil or other vegetable oil. Salt and pepper can also be added right before serving. As mentioned above, Ceviche is often eaten as a form of seafood salad and served on a bed of lettuce, or placed on top of crackers.