Traditional Cuban Food Recipes to Try at Home
Cuban cuisine is a mixture of Spanish, Native American Taino, Caribbean and African foods. There is some similarity with the dishes of neighboring Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. There are also modern Asian influences, particularly Chinese.
Rice and bean dishes are very popular in Cuba, often served with small quantities beef, chicken and pork.
Spicy Mojo Chicken, and Black beans and Rice are classic dishes that is easy to prepare at home. Many Cuban dishes have unique combinations of spices, citrus and tropical fruits.
If you have not tried Cuban food this article includes several of the most popular Cuban dishes that you can make at home.
Most of the ingredients in the recipes are easy to obtain from local suppliers, and substitutes are provided.
Traditional Cuban Pork Recipe
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup rice bran oil, grape seed oil (or olive oil)
- 1 kg (2 pounds) rolled and tied pork loin roast (score the skin with a sharp knife)
- Juice of 3 bitter Seville oranges (or substitute using 1 lime, 1 lemon and 2 oranges)
Serve with steamed rice and cooked black beans (see the recipe below)
The pork is marinated for 12 hours or overnight to ensure the flavors infuse into the pork. To prepare the marinade combine the juice, garlic, pepper and oregano in a small bowl. Use a knife to pierce the meat several times, and add it to the marinade, leaving the skin side dry. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). After marinading, remove the pork from the marinade and warm to room temperature. Rub lots of salt and pepper into the skin. Add the oil to a large heavy frying pan or Dutch oven over moderate to high heat. Fry the pork on all sides to brown all over. Use tongs to hold the pork on side that do not sit in place. Cover the heavy frying pan or Dutch oven and roast for about 45-60 minutes. Test for doneness and serve when the pork is just cooked right through to the center. Serve with steamed rice and cooked black beans.
Cuban Chicken with Herbs and Black Beans
- 1/2 cup of sofrito (available in speciality shops - or can be made at home)
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 large can of black beans
- 1/2 can of tomato sauce or tomato puree
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, cider or apple juice
- 4 chicken legs and 4 thighs with skin off or on (your preference)
Wash the chicken pieces well and rub all over with salt and pepper. Using a Dutch oven or deep cast iron cast frying pan, sautee the sofrito for a minute or two in a little grape seed oil (or rice bran or olive oil). Add the oregano and cumin, then the tomato sauce. Mix well and then add the drained beans. Next add 1 cup of broth, mix and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the cider and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces to the liquid, replace the lid and simmer gently for 35-45 minutes, testing to ensure the chicken is cooked right through to the center. Serve with steamed white rice and garnish with fresh herbs.
Cuban Slow-Cooked Braised Beef with Bell Peppers Recipe
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 onion cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into thick pieces
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds ( 750 g ) flank steak (or similar), sliced into large pieces
Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, cumin, oregano to a large slow cooker. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the steak pieces and ensure they are well covered. Cook for about 5-6 hours on a moderate setting, or until the meat is tender and soft. Shred the beef when cooked, and mix with the other ingredients. Serve over steamed rice and top with cilantro and chopped avocado.
Cuban Marinated Grilled Fish Recipe
3 pounds (1 1/2 kg) of firm fleshed fish with skin on (such as salmon, snapper, swordfish, tuna)
For the Marinade
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Juice of one lime
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
Place all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the fish and mix to ensure all surfaces are coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove fish and wipe to remove any excess marinade. Set up your gas or charcoal grill on moderate heat. Place each fillet on the grill with skin side up and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip over and complete the cooking on the other side. Only just cook the fish before serving immediately.
Mexican Black Beans and Rice
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 green capsicum, finely chopped
- 1 can black beans rinsed, drained
Heat the oil in a small pan using medium heat. Fry the capsicum and onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and cook for another minute or two. Then add the tomato paste and vinegar and mix until well combined. Add the beans and rice, then the stock. Bring the pot to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is just at the al dente stage. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside covered for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop before serving.
Cuban Mojo Chicken Recipe
- 2 garlic cloves
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Juice of 2 oranges, and zest of 1 orange
- One whole chicken (about 1 1/2 kg or 3 pounds)
Cut the chicken into about 10 pieces and score each piece with a sharp knife. Use all the other ingredients to make the Mojo marinade. Grind the chilli and garlic with a teaspoon of salt to a fine paste in a mortar and pestle. Mix in the juices, zest, cumin, lime juice, oregano and oil. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a large flat dish. Rub each piece of chicken with the marinade until well coated. Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight or for 6 hours. Then, remove the chicken, wipe off any excess and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken on a preheated barbecue or griller set to low heat, turning once or twice. Generally this requires about 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness to ensure the chicken is cooked right through. Serve the chicken immediately with orange and lime and orange wedges, black beans and rice.
© 2014 Dr. John Anderson