Yum! Gallo Pinto!

Ξ September 28th, 2005 | → 3 Comments | ∇ Costa Rica, Food, Whatever |

Costa Rica is not known for it’s fine cuisine. In general, this is probably a deserved reputation as it tends to be centered around rice, beans, chicken, pork, and beef (tongue especially is very popular here). However, how the above items are combined is within the realm of the cook and that makes all the difference. I find a lot of the cooking here to be really good! Generally, beef here is terrible. I think this is due in part to the lack of vast grazing lands. Also, the concept of aging a steak is not yet part of the Costa Rican culture.

To me, it has always been a wonder why folks move to a foreign country like Costa Rica only to live in residential strongholds of their countrymen and spend all their time at Tony Romas, TGIFridays, etc.

Many never make an attempt to learn the language nor the customs of the new country. I guess they just want to be able to say they live in Costa Rica.

If there is one dish that perhaps represents Costa Rican cuisine more than any other, it has to be Gallo Pinto. Anyone considering a move to Costa Rica should give this dish a try because it will most certainly be in your life here in country!

This simple (sort of) dish contains the requisite rice and beans, but the seasonings and cooking make all the difference. Normally, this is more of a breakfast dish… often served with eggs, a breakfast meat etc., but it is by no means limited to breakfast. In fact, we had it for dinner last night.

I have sampled well over a hundred ‘versions’ of GP since I have lived here. Very few are crummy. Some are ummmm… OK. Others are good… and then there are the really good recipes. Jeanette makes a really good gallo pinto. My wifey to be makes one that rivals Jeanette’s. This is unusual because Luisa can’t make coffee. This to me is astonishing! A Tica who cannot make coffee. Oh well… she is so great in so many other areas. Also, it is really good to have a new bride who doesn’t speak English nor understand the term blog!

Now to REALLY digress…. ML just woke up and called me back to bed for morning H and K. She asked what I was doing and I told her (which is why she doesn’t have to learn English… duh!). I have tried to explain the concept of the blog, but though she understands my words, I think the concept of publishing ones diary is anathema. Diaries are private. Her’s is… all 57 volumes! Anyway, I asked her how she can make such a fine GP and suck at making coffee, She just laughed and laughed and snuggled closer. Geez I adore this woman. Ten days left.

OK… back to the subject.

The BEST Gallo Pinto though, is made by Kembly, my son’s girlfriend (novia) here in Costa Rica. Kembly can make coffee too, but her GP is special. After annoying her for many months, she finally gave me the recipe which I am adding below for anyone who is interested. In English and in Spanish BTW. Enjoy! Coming to CR? Try your hand at the national dish!

Gallo Pinto


1 cup of cooked rice
1 cup of cooked beans
1 chopped onion (small)
1 small chopped red pepper
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbs oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 Tbs. Salsa Lizano (use Worcestershire sauce ONLY and don’t expect the same taste!
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs seasoning

How to prepare
1. Fry onion, red pepper, garlic, cilantro in the vegetable oil, about 3 minutes.
2. Pour in the beans and add the sauce, black pepper and seasoning. Let it cook for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry out.
3. Pour in the cooked rice and mix it with the beans

Enjoy with:
Sour Cream
Platanos maduros
Eggs (fried or scrambled )

Or in Spanish

Gallo Pinto


1 taza de Arroz cocinado (sencillo reventado)
1 taza de frijoles cocinados con poco caldo (sencillos en el sabor)
1 chile rojo picado
1 cebolla picada fina
2 cdas cilantro picado muy fino
1 cdta aceite
1 cda de ajo
4 cdas de Salsa Lizano
2 cdtas pimienta negra
1 cubito


1- Se sofrien en el aceite la cebolla, el chile, el culantro, ajo.
2- Cuando están muy crujientes se les agrega los frijoles cocidos y la salsa lizano, pimienta negra y cubito.
3- Se agrega el arroz y se frien un poco todos juntos para mezclar sabores.
4- Se dejan un momento en reposo , luego se mueve con un cucharon los ingredientes para que se mezclen.

Se puede acompañar con Natilla
Platanos maduros
Huevos fritos o revueltos


3 Responses to ' Yum! Gallo Pinto! '

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  1. AnneLise Pedersen said,

    on October 19th, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    Really, Tico Grande, I do not understand the problem with the beef! I buy lomoto, tenderloin, at a local butcher stand in the local market. Isabella welcomes me back to Puriscal, because I always stop on my way from the city, gives me a warm piece of Fried Pork Rind, which I also love, and selects the tenderloin which her husband cuts into thick steaks for me and then whoever is visiting gets to bar-b-que in the rancho that very evening.
    If I am not having company, I ask her for smoked pork chops and fry them up with some Gallo Pinto which my neighbour has ready. I am back in Paradise.

    I can’t wait to get back. But REALY, the beef is excellent.!!

  2. Tim said,

    on October 20th, 2005 at 10:16 am

    Ha! AnneLise!

    Another Costa Rica beef defender!

    That is why I said “Generally, beef here is terrible.” with the word ‘generally’ being key. As my friends here know, I am not an amateur eater 🙂 You shoulod too as we sat together recently at lunch!

    Yes, it is possible to find decent beef and tenderloin, etc, here in CR, but it is really difficult, and about the best you can hope to find is a “good” steak. I have never found excellent quality beef here in more than 15 years, and nothing that approaches the superb corn fed and properly aged steaks available in the US… especially in the midwest.

    However, in the interest of being fare (pun intended) I will happily agree to come to your home to test taste your fine tenderloin! I also will test taste your barbeque… but almost any beef works with barbeque so long as the SAUCE is really gooooood! I am also a qualified taste tester for Gallo Pinto… deserts, whatever!

    I believe you know how to reach me, so when you your husband return, my new wife and I will be happy to make our way to Puriscal for supper!

  3. Liz in Canada said,

    on October 20th, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I have been trying to recreate the dish but it’s just not the same without the Lizano sauce. I am coming back to CR in November and I am leaving room in my suit case for couple of bottles of Lizano sauce, the extra large bottles.

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