You can’t talk about Caribbean food and not mention Puerto Rico. To the inexperienced eye, Puerto Rican food may seem like nothing too different than its neighbor islands, but if you look into Puerto Rican cuisine, you’ll see just how different it is.
Puerto Rican cuisine is a mixture of local and international influences. Some ingredients, such as plantains and yucca, predate the 1400s. Other ingredients like olives were later introduced by the Spanish colonization. Soon after, when Puerto Rico became a stop along the slave trade route, African cooking techniques and influences instilled the land.
If you’ve ever tried Puerto Rican food directly from the island, consider yourself blessed. For those of you who would like to explore the different types of foods that Puerto Rico has to offer, stick around. This guide will walk you through the best Puerto Rican foods.
If the word Mofongo doesn’t trigger something for you, you’re missing out. Mofongo is made with fried green plantains mashed with meat and succulent vegetables. The meal is then coated in a sauce usually made from garlic, oil, and broth.
If you are into shish kebabs, then you’re going to love Pinchos. Pinchos are shish kebabs minus vegetables. Puerto Ricans aren’t fans of veggies on their kebabs. These are usually made from pork, chicken, or shrimp. If you’ve ever visited the island, you probably came across street merchants bordering the beaches, selling them. They are to die for!
A local specialty, Pionono is made up of deep-fried yellow plantain dough filled with ground beef. The Pionono is a very soft and sweet fried dessert. If you choose to eat healthier or hate oily food, you’re not going to be a fan, but trust us, it is delicious! Just one bite will convince you to drop your diet arrangements for one day and savor every last bite.
Much like a potato, Yucca is a root vegetable that can be served fried or mashed. You can find it in a thick wedges format, either boiled or fried, at most of your local Puerto Rican restaurants. Yucca fries are becoming widely popular in urban cities across the U.S.
Soup enthusiasts, rejoice; this dish is for you. Asopao is a rich chicken broth, usually served with a side of rice intended to be dropped into the soup.
Pernil is one of the best dishes when it comes to Hispanic cuisine, but the Puerto Rican take on this classic is amazing! Pork shoulders are slow-roasted and torn apart into big savory pieces. If you ever find yourself ordering one at your local Puerto Rican restaurant, take it with mojo sauce, rice, and beans. You’ll thank us later.
Una orden de Bacalaítos, por favor! Salted cod is a universally popular dish, but Puerto Ricans spice it up by turning it into a patty and frying it. If you’re lucky, you can find those at your local Puerto Rican Restaurants. Tip: Bacalaitos taste amazing with a garlic dipping sauce.
Are you a dessert person? If you are, you’re going to enjoy this one. Quesitos are oven-baked sugary, cream cheese puff pastries, coated with sugar. One bite of these and you’ll find yourself downing three or four on the spot. The only downside is that you most likely won’t find those at your local restaurants or patisseries. If you are dying for one, get your ticket, Quesitos can be found everywhere in Puerto Rico.
Arroz Con Dulce
Is there more room for dessert? Arroz con dulce (rice candy) is a delicious rice pudding prepared with coconut milk, raisins, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Do your taste buds a favor and try some. It’s a sticky sweet treat!
Arroz Con Gandules
Rice is very popular in every Caribbean island, but the distinguishing determinant in Puerto Rican rice is the green pigeon peas known as gandules. Arroz con gandules is a blend of rice, pork, and pigeon peas cooked in the same pan with sofrito. On the island, people have become so attached to it that there is no meal without arroz con gandules.
Maduros are caramelized sweet plantains with a slightly muckier texture than tostones. Unlike most dishes we looked at today, this one can easily be made from the comfort of your home.
Talk about fast food? On the island, Alcapurrias are the go-to fast food. The dough is made from green plantains and taro root, then filled with ground beef.
Typically served on special occasions, Pasteles are a crowd’s favorite. They are made of potatoes, plantains, and pumpkins, mingled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf with twine, then boiled.
Pollo Guisado is a chicken stew that blends many warming flavors and ingredients of the island. Dark meat chicken is cooked with seasonings such as sofrito, garlic, adobo, cilantro, achiote oregano, and other seasonings. Depending on the restaurants, the vegetables infused in the broth will vary, so it might taste a little different depending on where you get.
Got the munchies yet? Regardless of the kind of food you savor, Puerto Rican dishes are sure to win you over. If you crave something delicious, spicy, and greasy, you’ll find some great Puerto Rican restaurants offering most of the aforementioned dishes. If you’re big on sweets, you can find those too.
For those of you who love cooking exotic foods, you’ll be pleased to know that most of these meals can be prepared at home. You’ll find dozens of recipes online to help you in this endeavor, so why not give it a try?