Moroccan Beef Casserole

One of the weird-wonderful things about our rental house here in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, is that there are caretakers who will, if we ask them, cook food for us. We’ve mostly been preparing our own breakfast (eggs + plaintains) and lunch (grilled chicken marinated in Salsa Lizano; grilled fish with lime juice, oil, garlic, and cilantro; guacamole and raw veggies), then hitting neighborhood restaurants for dinner. But the other day, we took advantage of Carlina’s native cooking skills and dug into her homemade ceviche.

I was surprised when I saw her add the Costa Rican secret ingredient — ginger ale — but I couldn’t argue with the results. The ceviche was super fresh and flavorful, with just the right bite of lime and a gentle fizz from the carbonated soda. I have suggestions below for making a paleo version, so you, too, can enjoy ceviche without tanking your good habits. Pura vida!


Serves 3-4 | Prep 10 min. | Marinate 30 min. minimum


1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound of raw corvina (white sea bass or other firm white fish), cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup fresh lime juice (enough juice to completely cover and “cook” the fish)

2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup of ginger ale (optional; omit for Whole30; see note below)

1/2 cup of club soda

salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: The ginger ale is what makes it Costa Rican; it’s also what makes it not paleo. So… if you want to have some fun, use the ginger ale. If you want to remain clean, omit the ginger ale and increase the club soda to 1 cup.


1.Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the fish to “cook” in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Tastes best after at least 6-8 hours; phenomenally good on the second day.

2.Serve with on a bed of lettuce with sliced avocado, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, and, if you’re feeling particularly Costa Rican, a healthy splash of Salsa Lizano.