Panama offers an abundance of food and beverages to try on your trip here, and if you’re wondering what Panama must eat dishes to indulge in, here are four must-try dishes you should sample while visiting Panama.
Sancocho: the Ultimate Hangover Cure!?…This hearty soup features many ingredients, but what really sets it apart is the local culantro spice which gives sancocho its unique taste and aroma. In fact, locals claim that this dish can even serve as a powerful cure!
Sancocho is an exquisite Latin American stew packed with root vegetables that’s ideal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Recipes may differ according to personal taste but generally this delicious treat includes meat (such as chicken or Costilla de res) or fish with root vegetables such as yuca, cassava and plantains as well as spices such as cilantro and chives.
Domingo Obaldia of Panama discusses how Sancocho has become one of the country’s favorite dishes on his podcast “Sancocho Talks,” noting how this delicious soup offers protein, minerals and vitamins that can be consumed any time during the day. Sancocho can also serve as an effective way of introducing babies to new flavors as early as infancy – helping foster an open palate.
Carimanolas, Panamanian yuca sticks filled with delicious ground beef and deep fried for a quick breakfast or snack, were Lisa Kear’s go-to food as a child, and now proudly share that her Panamanian grandmother’s recipe is the key to their irresistible flavor.
Panamanian cuisine delights foodies with its diverse culinary traditions, fusing Indigenous, African and Spanish elements into an irresistibly flavorful dish.
Ropa Vieja, or shredded beef stew, is an iconic Panamanian dish found throughout Latin America and can even be found at street stalls or fine dining establishments. Enjoying Ropa Vieja can be found both comforting and hearty – you may just discover your new go-to meal!
Guacho is a traditional Panamanian dish consisting of rice, vegetables and an assortment of seafood such as shrimp, calamari, mussels and octopus. This hearty stew can be enjoyed throughout the year as an alternative to Sancocho – another traditional Panamanian soup dish.
This dish is easy to prepare and full of nutritive ingredients that provide essential nutrition – it provides protein, vitamins and minerals as well as rich antioxidants which may help combat diseases or slow aging.
Guacho is an immensely popular dish among farmers as it helps ensure healthy crops by controlling maize streak virus (MSV). Furthermore, this tasty treat boasts excellent taste and aroma; best enjoyed with white rice and fried plantains for optimal results.
Bollo pelon are delectable corn dough dumplings filled with meat, chicken or cheese and considered an integral part of Venezuelan comfort cuisine. A staple at family meals and festive celebrations alike.
Bollo is one of the more iconic dishes associated with Panamanian cuisine, particularly among Latin American countries like Colombia and Venezuela. This dish resembles both Andean humita and Brazilian pamona in terms of taste.
Since 2021, UK-based band Bollo has been making music under their own name with an eclectic blend of influences that is rich with texture. Their songs showcase intricate instrumentation and inspiring lyricism – quickly garnering them the attention of tastemakers such as Tom Robinson’s BBC6 Music show. Their debut LP “Mental Mirror” garnered their first significant notice with BBC 6 Music featuring it heavily as part of Tom Robinson’s show.
5. Arroz Con Guandu Y Coco
Arroz Con Guandu y Coco is an immensely delicious Panamanian dish combining pigeon peas with coconut milk to produce an irresistibly delectable dish, beloved among many households throughout Panama. This delightful recipe boasts its unique combination of flavor that has become an indispensable part of everyday meals in many households across Panama.
Pigeon peas pair well with the sweet and creamy flavors of coconut milk for a mouthwatering meal that will satisfy every time! Easy to prepare and perfect for any special occasion or special event! This dish makes a delicious lunch or dinner option.
To create this dish, it is essential to use a caldero (similar to a Dutch oven). These pots have long been passed down from generation to generation in Panamanian families and allow steam to circulate properly, giving rise to fluffy textures when making rice dishes.
Ceviche is the perfect way to experience Panamanian cuisine, delighting your senses with chunks of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime and spiced with salt, coriander aji and chili peppers – it will leave your tongue wanting more!
Ceviche recipes may incorporate various ingredients, such as white sea bass (corvina), shrimps and/or octopus; variations include cilantro, lime juice, onions and even tomato juice for additional variety.
If you love seafood, visit a “mercado” to sample ceviche. These simple eateries feature plastic outdoor seating with Latin tunes playing, delicious food at affordable prices and don’t forget the Raspados: an irresistibly refreshing dessert made of shaved ice flavored with fruit syrups – sure to soothe and relax the senses!
7. Ron Ponche
Panamanian Eggnog is an irresistibly tasty treat made of condensed and evaporated milk combined with nutmeg, vanilla extract and cinnamon that makes an ideal treat for holidays such as New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Cocadas, or coconut cookies, can be found throughout Latin America; however, in Panama they’re particularly well-loved. Baked in the oven and decorated with lots of shredded coconut flakes, cocadas make for a tasty snack or treat!
Panamanian cuisine is diverse and delicious! Although some dishes may appear similar to dishes in other cultures, Panamanian chefs usually add their own signature flair. For the best local dining experiences, I suggest visiting cozy villages, street food counters and small family-owned eateries; you may even sample Panamanian seafood such as Ceviche before ending your night with a glass of Ron Ponche!