Ron Don – Costa Rican Fisherman’s Stew

After weeks living on the Gallo Pinto, the rather romantic name given to no more than rice and beans, thoughts arriving at Costa Rica´s Caribbean Coast filled me with pangs of excitement. I was longing for my fix of pristine, palm-lined beaches, live reggae and colorful culture. But most of all my taste buds were itching for a well needed and much belated hit of Caribbean Flavor.
Jerked chicken, coconut bread and patty’s were all on the menu but the famous Run Down, pronounced Ron Don, was frustratingly impossible to find. A dish that is saved for family occasions it is near impossible to find in the tourist restaurants and cafes of the small towns that hug the stunning coast line.

So while drowning my cullinary sorrows in a small bar in the town of Puerto Viejo, you can imagine my delight when a local fishermen said he would show me how to make this traditional fisherman’s dish.

Loaded with whatever has come in off the boat that day, along with yucca, plantain and coconut it is the quintessential Caribbean meal and here at last is the recipe.

1.Clean and peel the yucca, and yampi and cut into large chunks and leave to soak in a bowl of cold water.

2. Now you need to juice your coconuts. Add the greeted coconut to a large bowl and add three liters of water. Get your hands in and squeeze the juice out of the meat. Strain through with sieve and repeat until the water is the color of milk. If you can’t get good coconuts you will be better buying some tins of milk.

3. Pour the coconut milk in a large pan and bring to the boil.

2. Smash peel and chop the garlic. Chop the celery and onion, slice the peppers and the lot to the coconut milk and simmer gently over a low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Now add the roughly chopped plantain, banana, yucca and yampi to the coconut milk and add the cilantro and the thyme. Burst the Scotch bonnet in your fingers and add to the pot. Continue to stew over a low heat.

4. While all the ingredients are cooking you need to get your fish ready. Traditional Ron Don is made with whatever fish comes in but ideally you want a fish with tough meat that is not going to break up too easily. Snapper, Jack or Corbina are all good. Gut clean and scale all the fish and chop into three sections. Head middle and tail. Score each side of the fish with a large knife and then smother each piece in a dry mixture of chicken stock and black pepper. Make sure that the seasoning gets in all the cracks and holes.

5. Heat half a cup of cooking oil in a large frying pan. When hot add four crushed cloves of garlic and fry for 5 minutes to flavor the oil.

6. Now ad all your fish pieces to the oil and fry on each side until golden and cooked through (4 mines side). Set aside on kitchen paper.

7. Now clean your lobsters and chop into good chunks and add to the coconut milk. Cook for 12 minutes until pink.

8. Add the fried fish pieces to the pot cook for a few more minutes and serve in large bowls with a good sprinkle of cilantro.

A huge thanks to Pino his family and crew for all their help.

Costa Rican Women making Ron Don. The Hungry Cyclist



This entry was posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2008 at 21:43 and is filed under Costa Rican Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Luis Amato

    I had Ron Don in thee others places in Costa Rica, and by far this recipe is the best. Pino also showed me how to cook it, and I really appreciated it.

  2. .hmmessage P
    font-size: 10pt;

    he is the master of the ron don and great company too! do you have any other good costa rican recipes?
    adios tom

    Tom Kevill-Davies 

    The Hungry Cyclist – Pedalling The World For The Perfect Meal 

    t. 0789 621 5282

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