Published on Friday, July 16, 2021

By Melissa Pette

In Costa Rica, two dishes call the attention of tourists and expats, due to their unique (weird) meal name. Have you tried the Pico de Gallo or the Gallo Pinto?

Neither dish has roosters. Confused? Let me explain.

The Pico de Gallo, which in English would be something like the beak of a rooster, refers to an appetizer that is made with vegetables. Its name is due to the peculiar way in which the triangle small shaped tomato is cut and looks like the beak of a rooster. Is my description a bit confusing? That's what I thought when somebody explained it to me too.

The other popular non-rooster meal is the Gallo Pinto. First of all, coming to Costa Rica and not eating a Gallo Pinto for breakfast is like never having come to the country. That was what I heard.

Neither of those two dishes has rooster or chicken as an ingredient. Funny!

So, let us go to the kitchen.

Pico de Gallo

This is an exquisite, healthy and aromatic blend of fresh ingredients. The ingredients can be added or removed in quantities according to taste.

Ingredients for serving two people are:

• 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped.

• 2 jalapeρo or Serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped.

• 1 medium white onion, chopped.

• 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.

• 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.

• Salt added to taste.

In a medium bowl, add lemon juice to the onion. Allow marinating for approximately 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixture and allow to marinate for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy as a salsa dip for chips or as a condiment for main dishes. It tastes great as a topping on tacos, fajitas, nachos, burritos and hot dogs, not to mention its use as a perfect low-calorie dip for chips.

Gallo Pinto

In my opinion, the most famous breakfast dish in Costa Rica. They call it Gallo Pinto, in English, because of the black and white resemblance to a spotted rooster with the same colors. The main ingredients are white rice and black beans.

The ingredients needed are:

• 1/2 cup chopped white onion.

• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or coriander.

• 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper or chili.

• 2 cups cooked white precooked rice.

• 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked black beans.

• 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.

• 1 cup of "chorizo" or smoked sausage.

• 2 eggs.

• 1 platano (no Cavendish banana).

• 1 red tomato.

• 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (if you have Lizano at home, much better).

The preparation could not be easier! In a pan: add half the oil, fry the chopped chorizo, add one egg and mix for a minute. Then add the rice and beans and mix for a minute. Add half the red sweet chili, half the onion, half the cilantro and two tablespoons of the Lizano sauce, mix for a minute. The first part is ready!

In another pan, add half of the oil and fry the sliced platano. When it turns a golden color, remove it from the pan and fry one egg.

Then, in a bowl, add the rest of the onion, cilantro, chili, chopped tomato and the rest of the Lizano sauce. Mix everything. This is a kind of salad, a so-called "chimichurri."

On a plate serve the rice and black beans, surround it with the fried platanos and on top add the chimichurri.

What about adding hot tortillas and a cup of black coffee? Perfect!

I would like to finish today's article by thanking all the people who have written to me this week. Also, to the brave ones who made the recipes at home and I'm glad to hear that some of you customized the recipes. 

Please feel free to send your recipes including horizontal photos to For more tasty recipes visit the AM Costa Rica Food page

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