For decades, Cuba was a country in which almost everything was scarce. Having to rely almost entirely on what it could produce itself, this scarcity led Cuba to become one of the most resourceful countries in the world.
Not having access to the chemicals or equipment used in modern farming, Cubans still farm using traditional, organic methods. The result is an abundance of fresh, local produce that bring bags of flavor to the country’s cooking. No GMOs here!
Cuban food is influenced by a variety of different cultures, using spice combinations from Spanish food and techniques from traditional Caribbean cooking. Native American and African cuisine also has a strong influence on Cuban cooking.
With staple foods such as rice, beans, root vegetables, plantain and pork, the food you find in Cuba is charming, simple and makes you feel all cozy inside. Here are our 6 favorite Cuban dishes you absolutely must try:
These could, and should, be served as a side dish to everything. For savory plantains, you’ll want to use ones with green peel, for a sweeter taste you’ll want the peel to be as black as possible. Deep fry to golden brown perfection and season simply with a little salt. How easy?
Yuca Con Mojo
Mojo is the sauce of Cuba. Made from sour orange, garlic, and oregano, you’ll find this dressing on everything from vegetables to roasted meat. Boil some yuca and just dress with sliced onion and a generous helping of tangy mojo sauce for the perfect BBQ side dish. You can go one step further and deep-fry the yuca if you fancy something crispier.
Lechon Asado – Mojo Marinated Pork
Another mojo centric dish, this is a popular holiday dish in Cuban households. There’s nothing fancy about this roasted pork, all you need to do is whip up a killer mojo marinade. Which, by the way, is the easiest thing ever. Bathe that pork in Mojo and roast it for a couple of hours – I challenge you not to slip into a food coma.
Ropa Vieja – Cuban Shredded Beef
The national dish of Cuba, no must-try list would be complete without Ropa Vieja. A big, tasty pile of meat lumped atop a portion of fluffy white rice – what’s not to like? A simple stew made with shredded beef, tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers, it’s a one-pot wonder capable of satisfying a hungry horde.
You’ll find these in most Cuban bakeries and they make the perfect game-time snack. A great way to use leftovers, there are no limits to what goes into these crispy fried treats. A common filling is béchamel sauce and ham that is rolled, breaded and deep fried. Making them can be a little messy, but they can be prepared well in advance and cook quickly.
Like many Cuban finger foods, empanadas love leftovers. Throughout the country, you’ll be able to find shrimp, chicken, beef or pork fillings accompanied with a sauce and some extra herbs and spices. A common street or party food, empanadas are a great example of Cuban grub you can eat on the go.