A common misconception is that Cuban cuisine is bland. Yet Cuba’s culinary culture is far from boring, and no, it’s not just rice and beans. Stemming from different cuisines such as Spanish, African, and even Chinese, Cuban food has its own distinctive flair. With unforgettable and well-balanced flavours, Cuba’s food scene will surprise you. Tuck in and enjoy our foodie’s guide on what to eat in Cuba:
1. Ropa Vieja
Perhaps the most popular Cuban dish, ropa vieja or “old clothes” (alluding to the meat), is a moreish mix of onions and bell peppers in a rich tomato sauce. The show stealer – shredded flank steak, stewed within the flavourful sauce. The iconic meal is typically paired with rice and fried plantains, creating a vibrant and delicious combination.
Another must-try staple is picadillo, a well-balanced stew boasting sweet and savoury flavours. Picadillo consists of slow-cooked ground beef, tomatoes, potatoes, a dash of wine and local seasonings. What makes picadillo unique is the addition of raisins for sweetness, and olives for a touch of saltiness. It can be served with rice or used as a filling in tortillas and tacos.
3. Yuca Con Mojo
A local favourite, yuca con mojo is simply cooked cassava topped with a sauce consisting of bitter orange as its main ingredient for a pop of flavour. It accompanies lechón asado (roast pork) perfectly!
This corn-based classic is made differently in Cuba! Nonetheless consisting of freshly ground corn, the Cuban version however, involves meat being mixed in with the dough rather than being used as a filling, as in the Mexican tamale. Tamales are easily found all over Cuba, making it a definite must-try!
A popular choice for dinner, Boliche is a mouth-watering dish comprising of a tender eye round beef roast stuffed with chorizo. The beef is simmered in wine and water with heaps of onions, and the chorizo is typically marinated in a mixture of citrus juices. Not only is it packed with flavour, but its accompaniments are just as yummy – rice, yuca, and fried plantains!
6. Platanos Maduros Fritos
These sliced sweet and succulent plantains, fried in sizzling oil mean you’re in for a treat! As a Cuban staple, you’ll find that platanos maduros fritos are a faithful accompaniment to a plethora of Cuban dishes.
Has Cuban cuisine surprised you? Check out our Cuba tours now for the chance to gorge on endless, delicious Cuban food!