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Recipes from Costa Rica: Appetizing Things Made with Lime Juice

Updated on June 22, 2013
Lime juice provides flavor for accomaniments like this salad which contrasts with bland tasting foods like beans and rice.
Lime juice provides flavor for accomaniments like this salad which contrasts with bland tasting foods like beans and rice.
Many resorts in Costa Rica have lime tree groves to supply the bars and restaurants.
Many resorts in Costa Rica have lime tree groves to supply the bars and restaurants. | Source
The Mandarin lime.  It isn't much to look at on the outside, but its subtle flavors are what makes many dishes have a distinctive flavor in Costa Rica.
The Mandarin lime. It isn't much to look at on the outside, but its subtle flavors are what makes many dishes have a distinctive flavor in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Dishes that Use Lime Juice

There are two types of limes in Costa Rica, the Mandarin which has orange flesh and the other type which is lime-colored inside. The trees of the Mandarin lime are very common in the countryside in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and they are more common that the type with green flesh inside. Each of the limes are used interchangeably in Costa Rica cooking. The lime is one of the most used ingredients in cooking in Costa Rica. It is used to make drinks, ceviche, chimichurri and salads. Salads are frequently just simply dressed with lime juice. Recipes for each of the dishes is given below.

In the upper right photo you can see a salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Chimichurri is a variation of that common salad that has just tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Below the salad picture is an ordinary lime and below that is a photo of the Mandarin lime, with its characteristic orange flesh and warty green outside. It definitely is not sweet like a Mandarin orange, but it has some fruitier overtones. The sizes of the limes found in Costa Rica can range from one inch in diameter to two inches. Larger specimens are found in the mountainous regions and the smaller ones can be as cheap as 20 per dollar.

So, without further ado, here are the various recipes that I promised:

How a Salad is Dressed with Lime Juice

Here are the ingredients that I put into salads in Costa Rica, modified from the plain dressing of simply lime juice. Everyone seems to really like my salads, so I must be doing something right.

Salad dressing ingredients:

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 tablespoon of vinegar, basalmic or cider

1 teaspoon of honey, or syrup of sugar cane (common ingredient here)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

After you have cut up the lettuce and other vegetables, add all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. If you are making the salad way before the meal, omit the salt and add right before serving - otherwise you will serve a severely wilted salad. Another ingredient that makes a typical salad here is cilantro, or Chinese parsley. Add 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped leaves for a distinctive flavor.

Avocado Lime Dressing Recipe Without Oil

There are various recipes and various types of seafood that are included in ceviches in Costa Rica.  There is an abundant variety of seafood from the Pacific Ocean.
There are various recipes and various types of seafood that are included in ceviches in Costa Rica. There is an abundant variety of seafood from the Pacific Ocean.

Ceviche in Costa Rica

Ceviche is a seafood that is marinated in lime juice. This marination in the acids of the lime denatures (or cooks) the proteins in the seafood. So, you are not really eating raw fish. Marination changes that texture and flavor of the seafood.

There are a number of seafoods that are used. Normally, the recipes use either corvina (ocean perch) or red snapper. These types of ceviches are softer. You can also make a mixture of fish and shrimp or shrimp alone. Last weekend, I had one made of albacore (cambute), which is a bit chewier. Some people think that the albacore is an aphrodisiac and some think that any ceviche qualifies as an aphrodisiac. So eating albacore ceviche has fringe benefits! Another ingredient used is a small black clam from Puntarenas, known as the chucheca.

Here are the ingredients for a fish ceviche:

2 pounds of fish filets, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1 small can of mild chiles, chopped fine

2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 4 medium Mandarin limes

1/2 cup of ginger ale

salt to taste

Optional ingredients to add:

2 dashes of hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 cup of catsup

A garnish of lime-marinated avocado


Add all of the ingredients together and let them marinate the refrigerator for at least one hour. If you wish to add the catsup and avocado, do so right before serving. Ceviche in Costa Rica is served with mayonnaise and ketchup on the side. People often put both on it and they eat it with soda crackers.


A Shrimp-Ceviche Salad Recipe

Limeade.  A very common refreshment that helps cope with the hot days during the summer in Costa Rica.
Limeade. A very common refreshment that helps cope with the hot days during the summer in Costa Rica. | Source

Limeade, for That Refreshing Pause

Since I have a lime tree in my backyard, and since limes are so cheap here, we frequently have limeade to drink. It is very simple to make. Here is the way to do it:

Juice 4 -5 limes

Add water to fill the pitcher 3/4 full

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar to sweeten (Costa Ricans have a real sweet tooth)

Mix to dissolve the sugar and add some ice to chill.


Optional, but common, additions in Costa Rica:

Add the juice of 1-2 oranges to make it have a more complex flavor.

Add 2 tablespoons of the seeds of chan (which will float in the mixture and make it more thick). Chan is a type of mint plant, but the seeds don't have a mint flavor.

Add 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, which will thicken the mixture and give you some omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you. Don't add the seeds directly to the lime juice, first add them to hot water and then add to the lime juice.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri comes in different forms, depending on where you are in Latin or Central America. The chimichurri of Costa Rica looks similar to the salad that is pictured above, but it doesn't have cucumbers. Chimichurri is used as one of the three ingredients for chifrijo (chee-free-ho), which is rice on which white beans are added on top with fried pork or fried pork skins (chicharrones) - the chimichurri is the salad on top. This is one of my favorite dishes (bocas) when I go out to a tavern. It is great with a lite beer or soft drink, depending on your preferences.

Here is the chimichurri recipe:

Two large tomatoes, chopped fine

1 medium white onion, chopped fine

Juice of 2 limes

1/3 cup of chopped cilantro

salt to taste

Optional additions:

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon white pepper


Allow the tomatoes and onions to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can also add chopped avocado to it before serving for a lagniappe.

Comments

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    • Boricua Queen profile image

      Boricua Queen Luisa Chacon 

      4 months ago from Puerto Rico

      Amazing!!

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      4 years ago from The High Seas

      Wonderful. I bet all of these taste great. I use lime a lot when I'm cooking too so these recipes really captured my attention.

    • Randy M. profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy McLaughlin 

      6 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Yes Elise, the salt causes the water to leak out of the lettuce leaf. So, it's best to lightly salt or add dressing just before serving.

    • Elise-Loyacano profile image

      Elise-Loyacano 

      6 years ago from San Juan, Puerto Rico

      "If you are making the salad way before the meal, omit the salt and add right before serving - otherwise you will serve a severely wilted salad. " Nice advice. I had never heard that one before, and it will definitely come in handy.

    • Randy M. profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy McLaughlin 

      6 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Our old lime tree died, but we had another one next to it that may bear fruit in another year - hopefully. It is really great to have your own tree in the backyard.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great hub. The salad dressing sound delicious.

      I love lime, especially limeade. No limes for the last 2 years, and I see very small baby ones coming (maybe they will take another 2 years).

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      6 years ago

      Randy M, What a delicious, scrumptious, tasty summary of lime juice-embellished recipes from colorful, friendly Costa Rica! Lime juice is a favorite with me: healthy, pretty, tasty. So I love the addition of Costa Rican-style recipes to my file. The bright salad and the spicy seafood taste like more.

      Thank you for sharing, etc.,

      Derdriu

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      6 years ago

      Very useful Hub. If only my lime tree would kick down some limes, I would be very happy. Voted up, bookmarked, and all the rest.

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