Rondon Soup Recipe and History

Rondon is a rich, delicious traditional Jamaican party dish and is very popular on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The name is the Patois pronunciation of “run down”.

“The vast variety of fishes, small game, and wild and domestic meats available to the coast people, in combination with the foods they cultivated on their land, kept them well fed, to say the least. Preparing a meal rarely entailed a trip to the shop. It was merely a matter of “running down” the ingredients in the bush, in the sea, or on the farm. The thrifty housewife put everything together in one pot, simmered it in coconut milk, and called it “rundown” for everything she was able to “run down” that day. If it included fish, yam, plantain, scallions, palmito and Panamanian pepper, it could hardly be better.”
“What Happen” – A Folk History of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Coast
—by Paula Palmer, 2005, p 61

Rondon can be made in the kitchen or on the beach: just make a fire with a nice bed of coals and cook the soup in a big kettle resting on some stones. This recipe varies alot depending on what ingredients a person can “run down” (or how gracious the sea is being with it’s blessings of fish and seafood that day). So don’t worry about exact proportions. Half the fun is gathering the ingredients! The first task is to gather some coconuts. The amout you gather is entirely dependent on how many people you are cooking for and how much total liquid you want in your kettle, including both the water you add and the coconut milk. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 coconut for each 11/2 liter of water. Open the coconuts up (the locals use a machete) and grate the coconut meat into a large pot or kettle. Add the water and squeeze the gratings with your hands. Separate the milk from the gratings using a stainer or by squeezing the gratings in a
cloth sack. Bring the coconut milk to a boil and add some caribbean vegetables: yucca, plantain, yam/sweet potato, palmitos (palm hearts) onions, etc. Add crushed fresh garlic and dried thyme to taste. Add a jalapeño if you want some tang! Separately smoke or grill some fish. This can be pargo rojo (red
snapper), marlin or corvina (sea bass). Season the fish with black pepper and salt. You can also pour chicken stock over the fish while cooking it. Don’t cook the fish completely, it will finish cooking in the soup. When the vegetables in the soup have softened, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the fish. Now add langosta (lobster), cangrejo (crab), camarone, (shrimp)calamare (squid), pulpo (octopus) and whatever else you have “run down”. Simmer the rondon a little longer just until the seafood is transparent and delicate. Rondon is best served about 20 minutes after taking it off the heat. Locals cover the pot with
banana leaves.

This recipe is brought to you courtesy of Maxi’s restaurant in Manzanillo,
where fresh Rondon Soup is served up every Saturday & Sunday!

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