Developed by the Afro-Caribbean population inhabiting the Costa Rican province of Limón, rice n’ beans is the fundamental dish of the Caribbean. It is by far the most popular food on the coast, featuring a simple yet inexplicable taste that is positively succulent. The secret to making this delectable dish and what differentiates it from the country’s famous gallo pinto – which is also made up of both rice and beans – is in the added coconut milk.
Today, rice n’ beans is still prepared along the coast as it was in the olden days. First you take a few coconuts and peel them. Next, shred the meat as finely as possible with a grater designed for this task, while slowly adding in lukewarm water. Then mix together the water, coconut oil and pulp. To maximize the most out of each coconut, take a large pot and crush the flesh with your hands to completely squeeze out all of the sweet nectar contained within.
Selvin Brown is a living Caribbean legend that grew up on rice n’ beans. This blue-eyed, Afro-Caribbean man opened his renowned restaurant in Punta Uva, Selvin’s, many years ago. Below he generously shares the instructions to prepare his original recipe, which is usually served with patacones (fried plantains), salad and a serving of meat, chicken or fish.
Rice n’ Beans Selvin Brown Style
- 2 Coconuts
- 2 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Bell pepper
- 1 Onion
- 1 Thyme sprig
- 2 Panamanian chile pepper
- 2 Stalks of celery
- 2 cups Black-eyed peas or red beans, boiled but not completely cooked through
Salt and ground pepper
Once the coconut milk is strained and ready, bring it to a boil. Then season with garlic, bell peppers, onion, a fresh sprig of thyme, the Panamanian chile pepper, celery and a dash of salt and ground pepper. Next, add the beans (preferably of the black-eyed pea variety, but if these can’t be found then red beans are second best) to the seasoned coconut milk. Let sit for a few minutes before adding the raw rice. Once the rice is almost ready, turn off the heat and cool.