Our Costa Rican journey ended on a bright, celebratory note. Regina and I met officially and had our first date two years ago on a chilly January 29th. Much has happened since then, of course. We got engaged, we moved in together, we got married, and now we’re mapping out a fantastic future. This year the 29th happened to land at the tail end of our fantastic trip to Central American’s crown jewel, Costa Rica. We decided that evening to have a romantic meal in the condo, just the two of us, without the noise of the downtown strip of Jaco. Cooking something fresh, listening to the pounding surf, sipping on a rum-and-Coke — not a bad way to commemorate our meeting.
We picked up three very fresh small red snappers from the local Super-Mercado and at the fruit and veg stand on the way back to the condo we grabbed some tomatoes, an avocado, a red onion, a bunch of cilantro, a small head of garlic, a small papaya, a mandarin orange, a jalapeno, and a couple of the indigenous limón.
First I made a salsa with papaya, jalapeno, a tiny bit of minced garlic, a little minced onion, cilantro, and mandarin orange. A pinch each of salt, pepper, and sugar and it was dynamite!
Next I made a really basic spanish rice with a little garlic, a little onion, and a pinch of saffron for color.
The fish were gutted but not scaled, so I scraped off the scales with the back of a knife, washed them very well, dried them very well, and then cut three or four vertical crescent slices into the sides of the fish, cutting at a shallow angle down to the spine of the fishies.
I seasoned them very well with salt, plenty of cracked peppercorn, a pinch of ground coriander, and some granulated garlic. I oiled the fish well and grilled them on a very hot, preheated and oiled stove-top griddle (the kind with the raised grill-grate).
While the fish grilled (which took about eight or nine minutes a side, with about ten minutes of resting) I made a simple salad of some superb tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and cilantro. When prepping the onion for the salad, I soaked the slices in cold water for about five minutes, which helps reduce the onion’s natural acids. I dressed the salad with some extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of the limón, and a little S & P.
Dinner was lovely. I served the fish with a pile of the fruit salsa right on top, and enjoyed the rice and salad with the fresh, sweet, and glorious grilled fish. It was a memorable meal, for the food and especially the company.
Happy Anniversary, baby!