Traditional dishes of Cuban cuisine
Cuban food is a mixture of Spanish, African, local Thai, and Caribbean ingredients and cooking styles. If you want to understand Cuban cooking, you need to know the peculiarities of the island.
Typical Cuban dishes are very spicy. They are often based on cuts of meat that have been marinated for hours or even a day before cooking. While many cultures add sauce after the meat is cooked, Cubans let the flavors soak in by slow cooking and heavily marinating chicken, pork and beef for added depth and complexity of flavor.
There are a couple of Cuban ingredients you should know. The first is mojo, a marinade of sour orange and lime, onion, garlic, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper that is used to season meat (especially pork). For stews, a sauce called sofrito is made from chopped tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and salt and used as a base.
Real Cuban ingredients and dishes.
1. arroz con pollo Chicken and rice are the most common foods in the Cuban family. This dish is similar to Spanish paella. There are many variations of arroz con pollo, but it is based on rice, sliced chicken legs or thighs cooked with sofrito, bijol seasoning, chicken broth and beer. Traditionally, peas and roasted red peppers are mixed in.
2. Ropa vieja (ropa vieja) Considered the national dish of Cuba, ropa vieja literally translates to “old clothes” and comes from Spain. The dish is made from shredded beef that is slowly cooked in a tomato sauce with onions, bell peppers, garlic and wine. It is always served over white rice and accompanied with maduros (sweet bananas) or tostones (fried pressed bananas). A similar dish with a twist is the waka frita, or fried cow, which is a steak marinated in mojo and then fried with garlic and salt.
3. Picadillo This simple dish is another Cuban classic, the perfect weekday dish. It is ground beef with brown garlic, onions, sweet peppers, oregano, bay leaf and salt. The beef is cooked over low heat with tomato sauce, then wine, olives and raisins are added. At the end, it is mixed with white rice. The dish is from Spain, and the name comes from the word picar, which means to slice or shred.
4. yuca yuca is the root of the cassava plant. Its taste is similar to that of potatoes, and it is one of the main ingredients in Cuban cooking. In Cuba, yuca is often cooked until soft and then coated with garlic mojo for extra flavor.
5. Congri Black beans are a standard addition to many Cuban dishes. They are cooked with white rice to make a delicious dish known as congri, which is the basis of a thick soup of black beans that is stewed for several hours. The same can be said of frijoles colorados or red beans. Black beans and congri rice can be found with slight variations all over the island.
6. Ajiaco A stew made from a little bit of everything, ajiaco is a recognizable and beloved Cuban dish. Chefs often put together what they have to make ajiaco, but the obligatory ingredients are: corn, sweet potatoes, malanga, bananas, beef or pork, tomato paste, garlic, onions and lemon juice.
7. Lechon Lechon is roast pig, and variations are found in many former Spanish colonies, including the Philippines. On holidays, Cubans cook a whole pig on a spit, often turning it until the skin is crispy.
8. Croquettes A dish brought by the Spanish, croquettes are fritters. A ball of dough is filled with ground ham or chicken, sometimes cod, and mixed with onions and garlic. It is then fried into long rolls. Croquettes are usually a breakfast or snack.
9. Pastelitos (Pastelito) Pastelito is a baked puff pastry with a sweet filling. Traditional Cuban fillings include guava and cream cheese, sweet cheese, or stuffing. Like croquettes, pastelitos are usually eaten for breakfast, but they can also be a snack.
10. Medianoche Medianoche means “midnight” in Spanish, but in Cuba is also a popular sandwich eaten for lunch and late at night. It’s almost like a Cuban sandwich with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles, but using sweet bread.
11. Flan Flan is a common dessert in most Latin American countries. In Cuba, however, instead of fresh milk, canned condensed milk is used along with eggs, vanilla, and caramel. Once baked and cooled, the caramel turns into a crust. This decadent treat is available at every Cuban restaurant.
12. arroz con leche Rice pudding, or “rice with milk,” is another popular Latin American dessert. But again in Cuba, condensed milk is used instead of fresh milk, making it a sweeter and more delicious dish. Lime peel and other traditional ingredients such as rice, vanilla, and cinnamon complement the taste of Cuban rice pudding.
13. Café Cubano Cuban coffee is a dark espresso blended with sugar that can be served in a variety of ways. Caf? con leche is the name of a regular Cuban coffee with milk. It is a standard part of breakfast as well as a mid-day and after-dinner snack.