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Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

Atlanta, Georgia
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Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

We will be in Panama for 10 days on a tour. What kinds of food should we be looking to enjoy most? Panama's known for any "must try" dishes?

Thanks

LN
Panama City, Panama
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1. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

Beef tends to be stringy as the cows here aren't penned in and fed all kinds of antiobiotics and product to make them grow quickly for slaughter. They are in fields, walk hills, etc. Enjoy beef it is says it is "Angus".

Yes, there are many chicken dishes and shrimps.

I will be punished for this remark, but find Panamanian cuisine as totally boring for the most part. I like spicy hot food and the typical Panamanian dish is very bland.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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2. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

No, no punishment intended this time. LN. ;-)

I happen to like a lot of Panamanian foods. In many ways, it's like Cuban food. Here are a few dishes to look for:

Ceviche - My favorite! Fish that is cooked chemically by the juice of limes. Often Corvina (Sea Bass) is the fish. But, it can also be pulpo (octopus) or camaron (shrimp). Chopped fine mixed with onion, a small amount of habanero pepper, sometimes celery and cilantro. Usually served as an appetizer.

Sancocho - Arguably, Pananma's national dish. Chicken soup made with all sorts of Panamanian tubers and vegatables such as carrots, yuca, ñame, onion, a bit of garlic and culantro (cilantro on steroids) and served with rice.

Ropa Vieja (old clothes or rags) - also known as a Cuban dish, it is stewed and shredded beef brisket with onion, potato, yuca, carrots, sometimes olives and capers.

Tamal - a casserole with chicken and corn meal - very similar to a tamale in a bowl.

Camarones (shrimp), corvina and pulpo (octopus) are served a number of ways. Al Creollo (Creole) is a slightly spicy tomato based sauce. Al Ajillo is a garlic and olive oil based sauce. Con Coco is crusted with coconut - Arroz (rice) con Coco and Camarones con Coco are very tasty!!

Plantano (plantain) - there are two types: patacones and maduro. Platano Maduro (mature) is sweet -- cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon. Patacones are squashed and fried. They're eaten like french fries, with salt and ketchup. (Not my favorite.)

Tasajo (jerky) - large, thick pieces of stewed jerky. You'll see this at breakfast, often.

Hojaldra - another breakfast food - bread dough cooked by deep frying, or as one friend put it "a cabohydrate vehicle for injecting fat directly into the blood stream." With jam ("mermelada") I still love it.

There are many, many other Panamanian dishes. If you go to Volcan or Boquete, look for beef "Filete al Ajillo." Very tender and tasty if you like garlic.

In Bocas, beware of lobster. Most has been fished out and it's a fight to get it to recover. If you order lobster and get a full sized "bug," it's been frozen and shipped in from elsewhere. If it's local and fresh, it will be very small pieces of tail from undersized juveniles. Please don't order it. If you don't order it, the restaurants won't buy undersized lobster. If the restaurants don't buy it, the fisherman will go after something else and the lobster population will recover.

As for bland and spicy -- restaurants typically have hot sauces on the table for those who like a litle more kick to their cuisine. You'll find that Panamanian hot sauces definitely pack a punch!

Buen aprovecho.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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3. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

I find that many of the hot sauces on the table may be "hot,

but do not have much flavor, like Tabasco sauce.

GBY you must not be a spicy food lover or you would know that.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

Thanks for the input. hould be fun!

Atlanta, Georgia...
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5. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

Hi LN -- actually, I am a lover of spicy food. I cook Lao and Thai. Next time I come to Coronado, I'll make you some green papaya salad with the papayas on our property.

You're right about many of the hot sauces. But, there is a somewhat thickish, orange colored sauce that I can't remember the name of that is tasty like Jamaican hot sauces and oh, what a kick! Do you know what I'm talking about?

LN
Panama City, Panama
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6. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

I know of one like that, kinda yellowish, and with the main taste of mustard. Is that it?

Atlanta, Georgia...
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7. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

This has more of a Pickapeppa flavor. A little fruity. Yes, i'm familiar with the yellowish, mustard flavored hot sauce, too. I think they start that one with a jar of French's and add habanero to it. ;-)

Kansas City...
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8. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

I agree that beef isn't the best here. Tough and stringy, no matter how it's cooked or how long it's cooked. And Panamanian food does seem to be a little bland. Chimichurri sauce on the side tends to lend some needed flavor. Diablicos Restaurant in Casco Viejo has some of the best Panamanian dishes and they are seasoned well. Definitely try sancocho-it's amazing if done right. Arepas are another tasty item here, although they originated in Venezuela. Happy dining!

Minneapolis...
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9. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

I found that there was mostly chicken and pork, avoid the beef unless you are in an expensive restaurant that imports it. All the fish offered seemed to be sea bass, not much variety there, and it must be farm raised.

Panamanian food is bland (must be the American influence) but good. Enjoy the fresh fruits and veggies, there was also a bean there I have had nowhere else.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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10. Re: Food choices in Panama. Fish? Beef? Shrimp?

American influence for bland food...........you are kidding, right? Local natives as a rule, do not like spicy foods so they make the hot sauces for those who do.