Rondon is a hopscotch stew prepared from whatever you happen to catch or find that day. Traditionally, this has meant whatever the fisherman brought in today + some meat from land animals like wild bore and birds + locally grown vegetables like yucca, plantain, onion, sweet pepper and spicy pepper. Since this is the Caribbean, coconuts are naturally also a quintessential part of a good rondon.
Making rondon has always been a question of using whatever you can find, so don’t worry about the exact proportions or finding exactly the right ingredients on the list. And also, skip the turtle meat. Meat from sea turtles is traditionally used in Rondon, but today the turtles along the Nicaraguan beaches are endangered and should therefore be left alone.
Examples of meats for a rondon: pork, wild boar, beef, chicken, rabbit, red snapper, sea bass, marlin, lobster, crab, shrimp, squid, octopus
Examples of greens for a rondon: yucca, green plantain, onion, sweet pepper, spicy pepper such as jalapeño, palm hearts, celery, sweet potato or yampi (yampi is native to the Carribbean), thyme
You will also need: coconuts (or desiccated coconut or canned coconut milk), chicken stock, garlic, salt, black pepper, water
How to make RonDon (“run down”)
- Gather 1 coconut for each 1 ½ litre of water. The amount will depend on who many mouths you have to feed.
- Open the coconuts using a machete or hammer and nail and pour any liquid into a large pot.
- Cut the coconut into pieces to make it easier for you to remove the coconut meat.
- Grate the coconut meat into a large pot.
- Add water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
- Use your hand to squeeze the coconut meat, separating the milk from the gratings.
- To get the very last drops of water out of the gratings, use a strainer or cloth sack or clean stocking.
- Discard the gratings.
- Cut the vegetables into pieces.
- Bring the coconut milk to a boil and add the vegetables.
- Add crushed garlic to taste. Dried or fresh herbs like thyme and parsley are also nice. Leave the pot to simmer.
- Grill the meat and fish or fry it in a frying pan. The fish needs to be gut cleaned first and scaled and chopped into three sections: head, middle and tail. Score each side using a large knife and smother each piece in black pepper. Some Caribbean cooks like to pour chicken stock over the meat and fish and boil it rather than grill or fry it.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- Before the meat is fully cooked (it will finish cooking in the soup), add it to the simmering vegetable pot.
- If you like sea invertebrates, add lobster, crab, shrimp, squid, octopus or similar at this point. The invertebrates should be well cleaned and, if necessary, cut into suitably sized chunks.
- Leave to simmer until the vegetables are soft, the meat is fully cooked and the seafood is transparent.
- Take the pot off the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes. (Locals cover the pot with banana leaves during the resting period.)