Pan Seared Sea Bass Casado
Casado means married man in Spanish. Casado is a classic Costa Rican meal that includes any protein accompanied with black beans, white rice and plantains. The origins of the name are thought to come from restaurant customers asking to be treated as casados. Customers eating like married men. I learned this dish because I married a Costa Rican. I like to think of my version as Casado alla Mexicana. I add pico de gallo on top of the sea bass to bring some much needed acidity and heat. Costa Rican cuisine is very different from Mexican. They don’t use chile in their cooking. I was shocked to find out that most of my husband’s family didn’t even use black pepper. This meal is time consuming because the beans take an hour and a half to two hours to cook. However, the beans keep in the refrigerator for one week. This allows me to use them throughout the week with different proteins.
Time-90 minutes/2 hours
4 chilean sea bass fillets or any white fish skin removed
1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 TBS of butter to pan sear fish
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Kosher Salt to both sides of fish to taste
Pico De Gallo ingredients
1 Large or 2 small ripe tomatoes
1/4 white onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 jalapeño chopped
2 TBS of cilantro chopped
Splash of water if the tomatoes are not juicy
1 lime wedge squeezed
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Bean ingredients
1 16oz bag of black beans
1 large tomato chopped
1/2 white onion chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 Bay leaf
5 cups of water
2-3 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
1 TBS of olive oil
White rice ingredients
1 cup of good quality long grain rice
2 cups of water
2-3 strips of green or red bell pepper
1-2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 TBS of olive oil
1 ripe plantain
1/2 cup of coconut oil for frying
Black Bean Preparation
Add oil to large pot on medium high heat and sauté onions, red and green peppers, and celery until softened not browned.
Next, add tomato and garlic to pot and season with one teaspoon of salt. Sauté tomatoes and garlic for 1-2 minutes then add black beans and water. Bring water to a gentle boil then add bay leaf and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Cover and lower heat to a medium low and cook until beans are soft and water is slightly thickened. Check periodically to see if you need to add more water no more than 1 cup at a time. Beans may take ninety minutes to 2 hours to cook. Taste for seasoning.
Pico De Gallo Preparation
Chop tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro add to a bowl. Season with salt and squeeze juice of one lime wedge into salsa. Allow to sit at room temperature so tomatoes can release some juices. When Black beans are done taste pico de gallo for seasoning, add a splash of water if it needs more liquid.
White Rice Preparation
Start your rice when the beans have been on the stove for at least ninety minutes. Add oil to rice pot on medium heat then add rice and pepper strips.
Lightly toast rice in oil for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and garlic powder and add water. Bring to a boil then cover with lid and lower heat to low. Cook rice for twelve minutes then turn off heat and leave lid on for a couple more minutes before letting steam out. Your rice should be fluffy and delicious.
Carefully peel the plantain by chopping off the tips with a knife and scoring the skin along the length of the plantain. This will make peeling easier. Then simply pull off the skin. Chop into 1/2 inch thick rounds and fry on medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Your oil will go farther if you use a small skillet. If using larger skillet you may need more oil.
Place fried plantains on paper towel and lightly season with salt. Set aside until fish is ready.
Season both sides of fish with salt to taste. In a large skillet on medium high heat add olive oil and butter to skillet. As oil heats up add sprigs of fresh thyme then add fish. Ladle oil and butter over fish as it pan fries. Cook on one side for 4 minutes and other side for 3 minutes. Fish will be buttery, light and flaky. Both sides should have a beautiful browned appearance.
Place fish on plate and top with pico de gallo. Add black beans, white rice and plantains in any arrangement that pleases you. I like to garnish with lime wedges, cilantro and avocado slices as well. Casado is often enjoyed with a cold beer or aqua fresca. I personally enjoy this with a glass of white wine.
1. If the beans are watery but cooked, take the lid off and reduce the liquid a bit further to achieve a thicker liquid or caldo. For a fuller bodied pot of beans chicken or vegetable broth can be used instead of water.
2. For a hotter pico de gallo you can replace the jalapeño with a serrano pepper.
3. Rice is sometimes tricky. I have learned to buy higher quality rice for better results. The key is to add the right amount of water to the rice. The water level should sit just above the rice. If you have too much water the rice will be overcooked. Using chicken broth or a chicken bouillon cube will enhance the flavor.
4. Finding a perfectly ripe plantain can be challenging. You may have to go to an asian or latin market to find them. This is what a ripe plantain should look like before frying.
5. In the summer months I like to grill the fish.
6. To get a closer look at all the food click on the photo for a close up.
7. Time saving tip. I’ll make the beans on a Sunday when I have more time. I start the pot of beans and watch them as I’m preparing for the week ahead. I may freeze half and use the other half with various different meats throughout the week. Once the beans are cooked I only have to make rice and a protein and dinner is quickly prepared during the busy weekday.
Do you have a married plate?