Rundun (run down)

I was born in San Jose Costa Rica but grew up in Port Limon, Costa Rica.

I was truly a kid when I first ate “Run Down” -now that was delicious!- even though I was so young –maybe 5 o 6 years old- I was enchanted by such marvelous flavor. I couldn’t believe the feeling that such flavor did in me.

This is a soup made out with coconut milk, local vegetables and usually seafood, but if there’s no seafood, any other meat will work nice, that is part of the recipe, that’s why it was named run down, because you had to literally “run down the coast or jungle” in order to collect the ingredients like cassava, fish, poultry, or “Paca” (Agouti paca) -a nocturnal mammal (rodent) big like a not very small dog- that is part of the local fauna of this area.

It’s originally a Jamaican recipe that was introduced to our country by afro Caribbean descendants that arrived to Port Limon, Costa Rica during late nineteen century.

Typically a festive dish, no important event can be done in Port Limon without a good Run Down or as we call it here in Creole English: Rondon

Ingredients for seafood Rondon:

1 can of coconut milk

3 small (or one big) fish heads

1 pound boneless fish meat

1 large onion chopped

6 to 12 thyme sprigs

6 to 12 cilantro sprigs

1 habanero hot chili pepper

1 dash of black pepper (or more)


Cassava (yucca) (manihot)

Malanga (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) arrowleaf elephant's ear, a starch tuber

1 or 2 green bananas

1 or 2 sweet potatoes

Some dumplings

Boil for long enough the fish heads, onion, thyme, cilantro, pepper, salt and the dumplings in the coconut milk, a little bit of water can be added if you see liquid has reduced to much, strain this stock, (save dumplings) then boil with it the vegetables, fish meat* and the dumplings with the Habanero hot chili pepper.

*You may add to the recipe all kind of seafood available like shrimp, clams or similar

NOTE: If you leave the Habanero chili pepper on top of the soup while cooking this last segment and don’t shake it, it won’t tear off and therefore the flavor without the hot will combine with the coconut milk producing an indescriptible flavor. If you want it hot, you can make some holes punching the Habanero pepper with a fork, once cooked remove the Habanero delicately, again if you like hot you may chop it in small pieces and add it to your dish, this is ideal when you want to share your food with someone that doesn’t like hot flavor on its food.

Javier Martín

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