The first time I had Caribbean rice and beans was in a bohemian village. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is full of foods and flavors you just don’t find in the Central Valley. My first semester as a study abroad student here, I took a weekend vacation that landed me in Puerto Viejo, a beach town full of dreadlocked Bob Marley groupies and heaping plates of coconutty rice and beans served alongside whole fried fish- eyes intact.
Once the initial what-did-I-get-myself-into shock wore off, I fell in love with Caribbean food, especially the simple and spicy rice and beans that partners exceptionally well with almost any protein- even fish that stare back at you.This past week I came across a typical recipe and made it twice. That’s right, twice in a matter of days. My husband doesn’t do spicy, so we left out the chili pepper lest I scarf down the entire pot by myself, and even without the kick of chili, it was still spectacular. If you’re longing for Caribbean cuisine at home, you’ve got to try these rice and beans!
- ½ c. dried red beans
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 Panamanian hot chili pepper (or other hot chili)
- 2 c. white rice
- 1 c. coconut milk
- 3 c. water
- 1 bunch thyme, or ½ tsp. dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse beans and soak them overnight in enough water to measure 3" above the beans.
- Drain beans.
- Boil beans and garlic in 3 cups of water. Cook until beans are softened, approximately 45 minutes to one hour.
- Add coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste, whole chili, and thyme to the beans. Cook 10 more minutes. Remove chili and drain beans, reserving liquid. Set beans aside.
- Rinse the rice under cool water until water runs clear. Pour rice into pot and measure out the bean cooking liquid. Add water to make 3 cups, add 1 tsp. salt, and bring rice to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and cook until softened and all liquid is absorbed.
- Mix rice and beans together. Check for seasoning. Serve alongside fish, chicken, or beef.
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