Cuba is much more than mojitos, La Bodeguita del Medio and Buena Vista Social Club. The island’s cultural heritage is huge, and within that treasure of guarded traditions, something that especially sparkles is its gastronomy. It is a mixture of Caribbean flavors and influences from Arab, Asian and European countries that are strongly felt in traditional Cuban food. Do you know any of its dishes?
Cuban food dishes has several particular characteristics: they are easy to prepare, protein and cereals are predominant, they contain few ingredients but they are very rich in flavor and nutrition, and they are abundant in spices.
So, let’s get straight to the point. In this article we will talk about typical Cuban meals recommended by abuelitas (grandmothers). And a word of warning: if you keep reading, you will get very hungry!
Best traditional Cuban food: Our top 10
With these dishes of traditional Cuban food you will be trapped by the magic of flavors offered by the largest of the Antilles.
If you haven’t had the chance to visit Cuba yet, but you want to get closer to the country, gastronomy can make you travel.
Here are 10 typical Cuban dishes that are our favorites.
1. Arroz Congrí
Arroz congrí is one of the most emblematic dishes of Cuban cuisine. It has become so popular outside its borders that to say “arroz congrí” is automatically to say “Cuba”. This dish is a mixture of red beans with rice, pork and seasoning.
Its preparation is simple. The beans are softened and then drained. Spices are added to the broth to taste and the rice is poured in. While this is cooking, prepare a sofrito with lard (or vegetable oil if you prefer), garlic, onion, chili, cilantro and pork chunks. Then mix the beans with the rice and the sofrito and that’s it! This is how you get one of the most recognized tradicional cuban foods.
2. Rice with Cuban chicken
Rice is the base of many typical Cuban meals, whether as a main dish, side dish or fusion. In this recipe it is combined with various ingredients to create a complete meal rich in protein, vegetables and carbohydrates. It has a characteristic yellow color that is achieved by adding bijol (achiote powder). It is a very common dish at parties and gatherings held at home or at the beach.
3. Ropa Vieja
With a very particular name, Ropa Vieja is a traditional Cuban food juicy in flavor. It is nothing more than shredded meat seasoned with garlic, onion, tomato puree, olives and spices. It is served with rice and plantains, in slices or tostones.
The ajiaco or caldosa is one of the typical Cuban dishes that offers a mixture of flavors in a thick broth that contains yucca, pumpkin, sweet potato, meat, green plantain, tender corn, garlic, spices and hot bell pepper.
It is a dish that preserves the technique of the Spanish stew, but dispenses with chickpeas and incorporates many vegetables.
5. Rabo Encendido
As you may have noticed, there are many traditional Cuban dishes with unusual names, and this one (Tail on fire), besides its name, has the peculiarity of being one of the few spicy ones.
To prepare this recipe, beef tail is used, a piece with a gelatinous texture that allows to obtain a juicy dish by adding the fried onion, hot bell pepper, tomato, oregano, cumin and paprika.
6. Fried cow
This dish is very similar to Ropa Vieja. The same type of meat is used for its preparation. It is shredded and poured over a fried mixture of garlic, onion and paprika and cooked until the meat acquires a crunchy texture. The flavor is enhanced by the touch of lemon juice that must be added.
7. Cuban cold salad
This is a typical dish served at parties. The base is a short pasta, fingers or elbows, to which is added diced ham, mayonnaise, pineapple, olives, cheese, tuna, tomato, cilantro and finely chopped paprika. The tuna can be substituted with sausage or chicken, although everyone is free to add or subtract ingredients in this recipe.
8. Yucca with mojo
This is undoubtedly one of the simplest Cuban dishes. It consists of parboiled yucca bathed in a mojo prepared with garlic, lemon, pepper, salt and oil.
It can be eaten alone or accompanied with salads and grilled meats.
9. Cuban Imperial Rice
Cuban imperial rice offers a combination of sea and land flavors, as it includes chicken, shrimp and ham.
Although it is a fairly simple recipe, you must cook each item separately. For example, the shrimp are sautéed in oil with garlic and set aside. Then the chicken is shredded and poured over a sofrito of garlic, onion and tomato sauce. The rice is cooked with the broth left after boiling the chicken. And the ham is chopped in small squares.
Once you have everything ready, proceed to assemble it. Grease a mold with mayonnaise and place a layer of rice. On top of it, place some chicken and shrimp. Several layers are placed successively and at the end, mayonnaise and grated cheese are added and it is baked in the oven.
10. Picadillo a la habanera
This typical Cuban dish is prepared with ground beef, vegetables and spices. If we say it like that it seems a simple dish, but if we detail its ingredients we will see that it provides a mixture of flavors that will make your mouth water.
Its preparation translates into a dish of ground beef stewed with diced potatoes, olives, raisins, wine, cumin, tomato puree, onion, garlic and oregano.
Are you in Miami and are you a cuban foodie?
If you are in Miami and you love the flavors of Latin food, today we want to invite you to discover chifa food, the best kept secret of Peruvian gastronomy.
Chifa is a type of food that emerged from the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine. It has become a hallmark of the Andean country, it is eaten daily in every home in Peru and, most importantly, it is delicious.
At Chifa Du Kang restaurant we serve the most emblematic dishes of this cuisine: chaufa rice, lomo saltado, wantán soup, tipakay chicken, among other delicacies.
We are located on Kendall Dr and Bird Road in Miami, come and explore the flavors we offer at Chifa Du Kang!