Mention Panama and most people will know about the canal and hats. Surprisingly, the hats originated in Ecuador,but the canal is certainly Panamanian.It first opened in August 1914 and is amajor source of income for Panama,as well as a boon to shipping companies whose vessels can pass from one side of the Americas to the other, without travelling around Cape Horn.
As we travel north from the South American continent, Panama is the first country we reach in Central America; bordered on one side by the Caribbean, and the other by the Pacific, to the south, Columbia and to the north, Costa Rica.
Originally populated by indigenous tribes, Panama became a Spanish settlement in the sixteenth century, breaking away from Spanish rule in the early part of the nineteenth century. By this time, the Spanish influence had been firmly embedded in the cuisine, but as we have seen with other countries throughout the world, this influence was combined with local methods and ingredients.
Some of you may not be familiar with the cut of beef in the recipe, but this is one of the tastiest parts, albeit not as tender as some of the other cuts. By cooking for a longer time, we are breaking down the structure of the meat to tenderise it, but still retaining all that flavour.
What you need
*750g beef (skirt or flank)
*1 1/2 medium onions
*3 medium tomatoes
*1 romaine lettuce
*8 tbs olive oil
*2 tbs vinegar
*2 tbs lemon juice
*1 tsp dried oregano
*1 tsp salt
*1 avocado, sliced
What to do
*Place the beef in a pot with about two litres of water and the half onion.
*Bring to the boil then cover and simmer until tender, about one and a half hours.
*Remove the meat from the water and allow cooling to room temperature.
*Break the meat with your fingers to form strands, removing any fat or skin.
*Reserve the broth for another use (can be stored in the freezer.)
*Cut the whole onion into thin slices, chop the tomatoes and cut the lettuce in thin strips.
*Mix the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano and salt with a hand beater or use an electric blender to form a dressing.
*Mix the shredded beef and sliced onion in a bowl and add half the dressing, combine well.
*Add the chopped tomatoes, lettuce and remaining dressing.
*Stir everything thoroughly, using two large spoons.
*Slice the avocado and place the slices in the salad.
*Accompany with toast or crackers and some pickled chilies or carrots.
(I served with corn on the cob.)
*Use chicken instead of beef.
*Add any vegetable to hand: sliced radish, grated raw carrot or cooked in cubes, cooked corn kernels, boiled peas, etc.
*Use guacamole instead of the dressing and leave out the avocado
*Serve your salpicón as ‘tacos’: leave the lettuce leaves whole.
*Combine all other ingredients, then place some of the mixture on each leaf and eat the ‘tacos’ with your hands.
I hope you enjoyed the fifty-third of our eighty dishes from around the world. Please join me next time when we visit Costa Rica.