My recipe from Panama: Seafood dish of lobster, shrimps, shark and plantains

Now it’s getting exciting! Today for the first time I can have a look behind the scenes of a seafood restaurant for you. Because chef Amir prepared Caribbean treats for me – lobster, seafood, shark and plantains. And I could have a glance inside his kitchen of his ‘Cevichería el Pargo Lunar’. You can find the recipe for the lobster with seafood and plantains below!

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Behind the scenes – Amir in the preparation process
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My journey began inside a Chickenbus from Colón through the jungle to the Costa Abajo.

These Chickenbuses run all over Central America and are old American school buses that serve as a public transportation system. People transport all kinds of stuff in it – including Chicken. That’s how it got its name.

The touristic untouched coastline west of Colón is pure nature and an absolute must see in Panama. If you wanna hit the unbeaten track, then this piece of land is worth exploring. Here you can find secluded beaches and pristine nature. And in the middle of nowhere you can find Amirs Restaurant ‘El Pargo Lunar’!

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Costa Abajo. Pure Caribbean, far from any tourists.

The ,Cevicheria el Pargo Lunar’ is a very special restaurant, not ordinary at all. The house is a wooden house built with love. Only six months ago, Amir and his wife Yuliana had built the restaurant made of driftwood and bamboo from the sea nearby.

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Absolutely cool and authentic. The kitchen of Amir’s restaurant.

Amir used to be a chef for more than 20 years in the city Colón. But now he and his Colombian wife Yuliana had the idea to create something of their own. Her passion is to transform the Costa Abajo near Colón in a very special place.

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Amir and Yuliana work hand in hand.

If you don’t live by the sea, it will probably not easy for you to cook that dish. For me it was quite an experience to watch Amir during his art of cooking. This fish platter, called ‘Picada de Moriscos’ will cost about 120 dollars in his restaurant. If you want to taste this mouth watering dish in a very authentic atmosphere, then try it out. Here you will find information on his Facebook page . Best if you reserve beforehand, because the fish will be freshly caught and prepared especially for you.

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The restaurant – El Pargo Lunar

About the ingredients, I gape in astonishment. For me, every single ingredient is something very special. The typical Caribbean side dishes such as yuca and platano, will perhaps be hard to find back home.

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It already looks mouth watering. But let’s get started.

Ingredients (4 people)

For the “Picada de Mariscos” (deep-fried seafood with fish)

  • Seafood such as octopus, shark fingers and shrimps
  • Saltwater fish of your choice
  • 1 medium sized lobster
  • 1/2 kg of flour
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 small sweet peppers (red and green)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ,Culantro’ a sort of coriander
  • 1 small green onion
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 3 small green chilies
  • salt and pepper
  • mustard

Amir’s special sauce for the shrimps

  • Cloves and cinnamon

On the side

  • 1 yuca
  • 1 plantain

For the lobster sauce

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 butter

Preparation:

Here we go! I am so curious to see how Amir and Yuliana will prepare all that fresh seafood.

Because most of it is fried just a few seconds on each side, you should be well prepared.

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Amir has cut the squid already into small pieces and kept it in the fridge in a sauce of salt, pepper, mustard and a bit of chilli.
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The fish was also marinated overnight: only with salt and pepper.

For the shrimps Amir has invented a special sauce. (A kind of tea made of cinnamon and cloves. This tea has been previously boiled for 15 minutes and can be stored for several days in the refrigerator.)

Frying:

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To prepare the shrimps, the oil should be really hot. Amir then fries the onion, carrot, garlic and pepper on a low flame. Then he adds 2 tsp (see above) of his special shrimps sauce.

Now you should add the shrimps and fry them for about 5 minutes together with the remaining ingredients. Hmm … it smells very tasty.

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That is how you should cut and season the fish.

To fry the squid and the shark fingers, Amir uses a large pan. In the heated sunflower oil he first fries chilies for about 5 minutes. Be carful not to let them burn and remove them before frying the fish. They are only intended to give the oil a little taste.

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The floured shark is fried while constantly turning it. After about 3-5 minutes, when it is slightly brown, remove it from the pan.
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Then you do exactly the same with the squid.
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After frying Amir drains all the fish on a sieve and sets it aside.

Preparing the lobster:

To prepare the lobster Amir puts water to boil. Then he adds a clove of garlic and Culantro.

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When the water is boiling, the lobsters’ time has come :).

Tip: To cook the lobster correctly, you should previously make a cut on one side.

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During cooking, you need to check how the flesh of the lobster looks like. The color of the flesh should change from transparent to white. Careful: If you keep it in there too long, it will dissolve.

For the lobster sauce:

Oh god … this makes my mouth water now.

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Amir prepares a delicious and simple sauce for the lobster. He heats half a butter on a low flame and adds half a lemon, which he presses through a sieve.

Preparation of the side dishes:

Yuca:

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Yuliana peels the yuca root (brown, left side) and removes the core.

I am amazed how quickly Yuliana gets that vegetable ready. Impressive.

Then the yuca root is cooked in salted water until it becomes soft (about 5 minutes).

Plantains:

Caution: The Platano secretes a sticky substance. Therefore Yuliana puts lemon on her hands before peeling it.

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The plantain is now peeled and then washed again. Wash your hands well afterwards.
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Because these cooking bananas are a typical side dish in Central America, each household has a ‘Platano press’. The plantains get mashed by it before they are fried.

For the deep frying of vegetables, the fat should be pretty hot. Test it with a splash of water. If it is hot enough, turn the flame down and add the yuca.

And then you should do the same thing with the plantains. Leave it on a paper to drain well.

The fact that Amir is a really good cook, I could admire today. With awe I watched him cook the seafood platter. But what pleased me the most is how much effort he puts in decorating the plate. After all you eat with your eyes first.

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Finally we can try that crazy dish. A delicacy of which I can not get enough! Hmm … just delicious!

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Buen provecho (span. enjoy your meal) and muchisimas gracias (span. thank you), Amir and Yuliana.
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