Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban Rice), The Philippine Way

I love food that shout at me to get my attention.  Yes, the good tasty ones that create an independent curve on my lips.  The kind that reminds me what the real beauty of cooking is.  It's when you create something that gives a contented smile to the one eating it.  And I just saw that smile on the lips of my husband.  This recipe will definitely be filed in the recipes to keep and to be repeated.   He reminded me to keep everything as is. 

Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban Rice) is a common dish in the Philippines that was taken by the Spanish during their long occupation of the country that they perhaps took from Cuba.  Correct me if I am wrong because I don't know so much about its history.  Peru also has its own version.  What I know is that the Spanish version is meatless and is a plate comprised of steamed white rice served with tomato sauce and fried egg.  When they took it to the Philippines, it was modified according to the palate of the Filipinos.  In place of the tomato sauce is a mixture of sauteed ground meat with tomatoes, potatoes, peas, peppers, carrots and raisins.  Recipes and ingredients of this meat dish vary in every household but what remains are the fried bananas and eggs on top of the steamed white rice. 

Let me leave you with this recipe.  You can omit the raisins, peppers or carrots and just make it simple with potatoes and peas but I suggest you keep them because altogether, they created a harmonious blend of flavors.  The bananas and raisins gave a sweet edge to the dish.  It may look a bit like a cacophony of odd mixture of ingredients but like what my husband said, keep everything as is.  It's delicious this way.  Classic dishes remain for centuries for a reason.  Because they are good. 

Buon appetito!

Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban Rice), The Philippine Way

Serves 4
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 250 grams ground beef
  • 250 grams ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 big potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in water for 10 minutes then drained
  • 2 plantains, peeled and halved crosswise if it's too long, then halved lengthwise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 eggs
  1. Over high heat, in a medium saucepan, combine the rice and water then bring it to a boil. When it boils, put down the flame to the lowest, partially cover (leave about 1/2 inch uncovered) it then simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water dries up and the rice is cooked. Set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, in a medium saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, sautè the garlic until golden then add the onions. Cook until they change color. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground meat, cooking for 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through then add the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Add the potatoes, carrots and bell pepper then cover and simmer over low - medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the peas and raisins then cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, while waiting for the meat to cook, quickly brown the plantains with little extra virgin olive oil in another saucepan then set aside. Wipe the saucepan with a kitchen paper towel to fry the eggs.
  7. When the meat is cooked, fry the eggs in the saucepan with little oil. Season with salt.
  8. Compose the plate with the white rice on one side topped with the egg, fried plantains and meat on both sides. Serve hot.