We had the wonderful opportunity to stay at the Four Seasons resort in Costa Rica after the New Year. What a perfect time of year to visit this amazing country. We started out in the rain forest in the Arenal region and then moved on to the Pacific Coast for a couple of days. This was our first time staying at a Four Seasons property and we felt spoiled in every way. We had a room that faced the bay, up on the hillside with golf cart service up the hill if we didn’t feel like walking. While it was 90º each day, the cool breezes from the ocean kept us comfortable as we sat outside enjoying the beautiful views in every direction. From iguanas at the pool, to monkeys in the trees on the way to breakfast, we could not have asked for a more beautiful place to enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer.
While we had a wonderful time enjoying the water activities that are included in your stay, I was looking forward to a cooking class our travel agent had arranged for us.
Early in the day, I met with one of Executive Chef Mario Alcocer’s assistants to give him some suggestions about what I wanted to learn. After being in Costa Rica for a few days, I’ve really been impressed with ceviche. I hadn’t tried it in the past and every version we tried was so interesting that I wanted to learn how to prepare this from someone local. We hung out at the pool until it was about time for us to meet for our class. While we were waiting, Executive Chef Mario Alcocer came down and introduced himself and chatted with us while they were finishing up the prep work. His assistant, Justo Perez, took over from there. Taylor and I donned a hat and apron while Mike took up camera duty.
Justo started by showing us the basics of ceviche. We made three types, one with shrimp, one with sea bass and one with octopus. The shrimp and octopus had been pre-cooked as they take an hour or two to marinate. We first prepared a different marinate for all three and then let them sit for a while, as the lemon and orange juice are what cook the fish. While waiting, we seared some tuna covered in sesame seeds and then sliced it and placed it in a mango puree. I’ve tried raw tuna before but have never been a fan. However after these preparations, I now see what everyone has been talking about. Preparing fish this way keeps it tender, fresh and the flavors were phenomenal.
After we prepared the tuna, we served the ceviche in fried plantain baskets. The plantain base complimented the flavorful ceviches, each was a little different. While I probably won’t make fried plantain baskets at home, I think I’ll try serving it in wonton cups or with tortilla chips. I can’t wait to experiment with ceviche, I will definitely share my adventures on the blog.
That night we went to Caracol, the restaurant located at the golf club. The chef brought out a special appetizer for us, it was tuna ceviche served over dry ice. It was the coolest presentation and the tuna was awesome. Thanks Mario and Justo for giving us a fantastic cooking experience and a new way to enjoy seafood.