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Speckled Trout Casado

speckled trout in cooler.

Words by Tim Homa

Winter definitely decided to show up in the Mid-Atlantic this year. Even though I've been taking advantage of the waves, I still find myself daydreaming more than normal about past trips to tropical climates.

Warm water, delicious food, howling monkeys, fun waves, and great bluewater fishing are all things that I’ve reflected on this winter to keep pushing through. Typically a yearly stop for me, it's been two years since I’ve been back to Costa Rica.

Aside from the obvious things like the surf and fishing, the food in Costa Rica made a huge impact on me. Everything I’ve put in my mouth there is delicious. Their food is fresh, simple, colorful, and flavorful. One dish in particular that has me missing Costa Rica big time is Casado.

Casado is a Costa Rican staple that consists of rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and protein, usually fish, eggs, chicken, beef, or pork. Oftentimes, and my favorite, the rice and beans portion of Casado comes in the form of Gallo Pinto. Gallo Pinto is a mix of rice, black beans, onions, and bell peppers. It somehow has a crisp to it and could be exchanged as currency as far as I’m concerned.

Ordering Casado with a piece of fresh Mahi for $8-$10 in Costa Rica beats almost any seafood special that you’ll pay $25+ for here in the states.

In order to inject a little shot of warmth and Costa Rican magic into me until I can get back to the tropical wonderland, I set out to make my own version of Casado here in Virginia Beach.

fileting speckled trout.

A poorly timed idea from a fishing standpoint thanks to the recent cold snap. I had to employ some coldwater finesse fishing to secure a speckled trout for this dish. After a few hours on a recent mild day, I was able to locate fish in 12 feet of water that were all about my 2.5” Z-Man Slim Swimz paddle tail barely crawling along the bottom.

With the protein secured, I had everything else I needed at home. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find plantains so my dish was less plantains.

Typically, the fish in Casado is grilled, but I decided to add a bit of American flair and calories to the dish by making a Panko crust for the speckled trout. I call it “Spice Cabinet Crusted Speckled Trout.” The mix I came up with adds plenty of spice, flavor, and crunch to the moist filets.

mixing ingredients for speckled trout recipe.

For the Gallo Pinto, the key is using day-old white rice. This allows for the rice to crisp up a bit when you combine the beans, bell pepper, and onions in a saute pan. Gallo Pinto usually has something called Lizano Salsa in it, which is a sauce that comes from heaven. It is hard to get in the states, so I substituted that with Coconut Aminos. Simply dab that in while stirring everything in the pan.

Once the fish and gallo pinto were complete, I assembled a simple salad that consisted of cabbage, carrots, and romaine lettuce. Instead of a plate, I put the Gallo Pinto and salad side by side in a big bowl and placed the speckled trout filet on top. I highly recommend topping with your favorite hot sauce. I went with El Yucateco Habanero sauce.

A creamy sauce or aioli goes nice with the dish as well. I’ve never made an aioli, nor has anyone in my family made an aioli, so I went with a couple dabs of classic ranch dressing. Don’t knock it until you try it and trust me, I know I’m white trash.

My first bite was everything I had hoped it would be and filled my body with tropical warmth. It transformed me back to the dirt roads of Costa Rica drinking a cold Pilsen and enjoying the “pura vida” life.

Below are all of the ingredients and instructions I used so that you can turn your Mid-Atlantic winter into a tropical paradise.

cooking speckled trout in kitchen.

Ingredients for the Spice Cabinet Crusted Speckled Trout:
  • 2 Speckled Trout Filets (Redfish, Striper, or Flounder work as well)

  • ¾ Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs

  • 3 Tablespoons of Butter

  • ½ Cup of Mayo

  • 5 Taps of Old Bay

  • 4 Taps of Chili Powder

  • 3 Taps of Salt

  • 3 Taps of Pepper

  • 2 Taps of Garlic Powder

  • 6 Taps of Trader Joe’s Onion Salt

Ingredients for the Gallo Pinto:
  • 1 ½ cup of day old white rice

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced and sauteed

  • ½ Red Onion, diced and sauteed

  • 3 Taps of Salt

  • 4 Taps of Chili Powder

  • 2 Taps of Garlic Powder

  • 5 Taps of Coconut Aminos

  • 1 Can of Black Beans

  1. Preheat the oven to 425. While the oven is preheating, set filets out and pat dry.

  2. In a bowl, mix up the Panko and delicious spices. Feel free to add more or less taps of the spices depending on your tastebuds. The scientific measurements included above achieve a perfect balance of spicy, garlicky, and salty goodness.

  3. Once your breadcrumb mix is assembled, melt the butter and pour into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Stir until mixed through and darkened.

  4. Now, take the mayo and spread it on top of each filet.

  5. Place the filets on a cooking sheet and dump the breadcrumbs on top of the filets. Make sure they are completely covered and packed tightly.

  6. Put the filets in the oven and let cook for 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness of filets.

  7. While the filets are cooking, take a saute pan and throw in all the ingredients for the Gallo Pinto on medium high heat.

  8. Stir until the rice starts to crisp and stick to the pan.

  9. Place Gallo Pinto in a bowl with diced cabbage, slaw, or salad of your choice.

  10. When filets are done, place in the bowl and top with your favorite hot sauce and creamy condiment. For myself, lacking any class or elegance, I enjoy this dish with some good old fashioned ranch.


speckled trout recipe.

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