Puerto Rico Food
By Christy Reid
There are many truly mouth-savoring dishes in Puerto Rico. Most of the dishes in Puerto Rican cuisine are extremely easy to prepare and serve. Puerto Rico food is the result of the artful melding of the cooking styles of Spain, Africa, America, and the Taino Indians of the Caribbean.
Here are some of the more popular dishes in Puerto Rico:
Asopao is the considered to be the most traditional Puerto Rican dish, and is a cross between a soup and a paella. It is a simple, hearty one-dish meal made with rice, chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and vegetables. One popular version is asopao de gandules (pigeon peas), which is consumed when the food budget runs low. Most of the restaurants serve their own asopao variant to travelers and local residents.
Arróz con Pollo (rice with chicken and chicken rice soups) is as simple as its name implies: chicken and rice cooked with vegetables, spices, and saffron. Optional additions include peas and red peppers. Traditional recipes use olive oil, rather than achiote, or annatto seed oil.
Arroz con Habichuelas (rice & beans) usually consists of white rice accompanied by dry beans, and can be served as a side dish with meat or by itself. It can be found in essentially all restaurants. Puerto Ricans often eat it at home.
Lechón asado or whole roasted pig, is a popular dish for large gatherings or special occasions such as weddings. Traditionally, the whole pig is low-roasted on a spit. Before the cooking process, it is typically coated in a red liquid often used as food coloring, derived from the fruit of the achiote plant, and then basted with sour orange juice. The dish is served with ali-li-monjili, a sour vinegar and garlic-based sauce.
Chuletas (pork chops) are juicy pork chops, available grilled or deep-fried. They may be served with a layer of crispy-fried pork skin, or cuero. The rib, chop and rind combination is usually served with rice and beans or plantains.
Mofongo (mashed plantains) is a mashed mound of plantains to which a combination of seafood, meat, or vegetables is added. It can be served as a side dish or a main course accompanied by beans and rice. It is a must-try for first-time visitors.
Chillo (red snapper) is one of the tastiest and most popular foods on the island. It is a fish dish best served as chillo entero, or whole red snapper fried and seasoned with local herbs and spices.
Arroz con Gandules is simply rice with pigeon peas. It is often regarded as Puerto Rico's national dish and may be flavored with garlic and green onions. It is sometimes made with pork, chorizo, ham, hot peppers and locally grown olives.
Bacalaítos Fritos (deep-fried salt-codfish fritters) are fritter rolls filled with fish and flour. They may be enjoyed as a side dish or appetizer, and are widespread throughout the islands of Puerto Rico.
Alcapurrias (banana and taro root croquettes stuffed with meat) are scrumptious fritters usually made with a batter of taro (yautía) and green bananas (guineos verdes), and are stuffed with either a meat (pino) filling or with crab, shrimp or lobster. They are typically sold as snacks by vendors on the beach.
Pastelillos (fried meat turnovers) are meat, seafood, cheese, or fruit turnovers usually called "empanadas". On the eastern side of the island, they are known as pastelillos.
Chuchifritos are essentially fried pork skins, one of the popular quick snacks on the island. It is regarded as the "soul food" of Puerto Rico. However, in other locales, the term may be used to refer to a variety of Puerto Rican dishes which include morcilla (blood sausages), chicharron (fried pork skin), patitas (pork feet), masitas (fried porkmeat), and other parts of the pig cooked in various ways.
For more tasty tidbits on Puerto Rican food, please visit us at Caribbeanfoods101.com - a community built around the LOVE of all Caribbean foods.
Christy Reid is a writer for Caribbeanfoods101.com.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.