With heavy influences from Spanish, African, Caribbean and Mexican cooking styles, Cuban food is unique and rich. Because of this, each dish is steeped in tradition and jam-packed with Latin flavour. Whether you are planning to visit the island or want to order from your local Cuban joint here are seven Cuban dishes you have to try.
Traditional Cuban Dishes Everyone Needs To Try
1. Ropa Vieja
Spanish for old clothes, ropa vieja is a Cuban favourite and often considered a national dish. This saucy dish consists of shredded beef that’s been slow-cooked in tomato sauce with peppers and onions. It’s simmered until it becomes stewey and served alongside fluffy white rice and plantains.
2. Vaca Frita
Without a doubt, the crispier, more tart cousin to ropa vieja is vaca frita. Beef strips are marinated in a copious amount of lime, salt and garlic and then seared to a crisp. It’s the perfect amount of juiciness and tenderness and goes perfect with a few cervezas.
This creamy custard dessert is a favourite among Cubans and has been since it was adopted from the Spanish centuries ago. A firm cream of sugar, milk and eggs are covered in caramelised condensed milk that makes for the smoothest, sweetest dessert in the Caribbean.
4. Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con pollo or, chicken with rice is a humble yet tasty dinner that can be found all across Latin America. In Cuba, though, they make it their own with olives and loads of regional spices. Picture a paella without the seafood, and you’ve got arroz con pollo.
Imagine the juiciest, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs smothered in sour and savoury spices, and you’ve got costillitas. These ribs are marinated in sour orange juice, lime, oregano, garlic and olive oil before being cooked low and slow all day. They are the definition of sweet and sour and a Cuban classic.
Another humble and scrumptious dish is picadillo. Ground beef is mixed with garlic, onions, bell peppers and loads of spices before it is simmered on a low heat all day. Additionally, tomato sauce, wine, olives and raisins are added in to spruce it up as it stews. Once it’s ready it is served with white rice and a nice squeeze of lime.
7. Yuca Con Mojo
Last but not least is yuca con mojo. Yuca is the root of the cassava plant and can be found all over the island. Steam it, fry it, bake it, mash it, either way, it is delicious and a Cuban staple. Yuca con mojo is marinated yuca with loads of garlic, lime and then smothered olive oil. Because of its versatility you can enjoy it as a side or make an entire meal out of it.