Arroz Ala Cubana: A Spanish-Filipino Delight

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Hello lovely moms and parents! I’m here once again your sanctuary of sanity in motherhood from the sunny shores of my little island.

Today I’m sharing the perfect dish for busy weeknights, Arroz Ala Cubana as we call it here.

“Mommy, ang Arroz ala Cubana ba galing sa Cuba? Probably not ano, kase yung French fries nga hindi naman French”, says the inquisitive girl helping me cut up carrots and potatoes.

So, storytime!

Arroz Ala Cubana is a common dish in the Philippines, often confused with the more common Ginisang Pork Giniling, It’s a complete meal that stands out in the culinary landscape of the Philippines as a dish that skillfully combines the bright flavors of the Philippine archipelago with the rich culinary legacy of Spain. This delicious mingling of cultures has established itself as a household favorite in the Philippines, providing a tantalizing taste of history and a culinary journey that takes us across continents.

Origins of Arroz Ala Cubana

The beginnings of Arroz Ala Cubana must be traced back to the time of Spanish colonial dominance over the Philippines. The dish’s exact origins are uncertain, although according to historians, it most likely traveled from the Spanish beaches to the Philippines via colonial trade lines. The name of the meal is derived from the Spanish phrase “Arroz a la Cubana,” which translates to “rice made in Cuba.”

As arroz a la Cubana, rice is frequently served in Spain with white rice, tomato sauce, and a fried egg,  It is a popular choice for a hearty breakfast or a warm dinner. The Filipino version we know today was created when the Filipinos, with their innate culinary flair, altered this Spanish classic and added their own distinctive flavors.

The Filipino Twist: A Tapestry of Flavors

In Filipino cuisine, Arroz Ala Cubana takes on a distinct character, showcasing the amalgamation of ingredients that define the archipelago’s rich culinary tapestry. Here, the dish features ground pork simmered with tomatoes or tomato sauce, peas, carrots, potatoes, and the hate it or love it raisins, The simmered pork giniling is assembled into a whole dish with rice, fried Saba bananas, and fried sunny-side-up eggs. The result is a tantalizing combination of savory and sweet notes, a harmonious dance on the taste buds.

The difference with Pork Giniling Recipe

  1. Cooking method – Pork Giniling is a stir-fry dish whereas Arroz Ala Cubana is simmered in tomato sauce.
  2. Seasonings – Pork Giniling typically uses more Filipino seasonings like soy sauce, patis (fish sauce), and calamansi juice. Arroz ala Cubana has a Spanish influence and tends to use ingredients like bay leaves.
  3. Accompaniments – Pork Giniling is usually served with just rice on the side. Arroz ala Cubana is a rice dish, so it’s served as the main course along with sunny side up eggs and saba bananas.
  4. Origin – Pork Giniling has its roots in traditional Filipino cuisine. Arroz ala Cubana, as the name suggests, has Spanish influences inherited from the Philippines’ colonial history.

Cooking Up Arroz Ala Cubana

So anyway, before I get commented 😂 on with my usual long-winded intros, historical origins, and culinary influences behind dishes I write, here’s the Arroz Ala Cubana recipe that you came here for.  Let’s get started with a straightforward but delectable dish that captures the spirit of this Filipino-Spanish treat.

What to do with leftovers

Arroz Ala Cubana is actually one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day. So if you have leftovers, don’t fret. It’s also a great prepare ahead meal that you can just take out and defrost when you want it.

Here are my tips for storing leftover Arroz Ala Cubana:

  • Allow the rice dish to cool completely before covering and storing it. This will prevent condensation from forming.
  • For the best texture and flavor, divide the leftovers into shallow containers,
  • Cover the containers tightly with plastic wrap or lids and then refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. Leftover Arroz tastes best when used within 3 to 4 days.
  • Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a tablespoon or two of water  to restore some moisture. Stir frequently while reheating.
  • For optimal results, you can freeze Arroz Ala Cubana to enjoy up to 3 months later. Divide into meal-sized portions and place in zip-top freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing and labeling the bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Hope these tips help keep your Cuban-style rice dish tasting fresh for as long as possible, mama! Leftovers make easy, flavorful meals for busy weeknights. 

I hope this easy Arroz Ala Cubana brings you warm moments and a bit of tropical island bliss. To get the full recipe emailed to you along with my favorite family-friendly island activities, sign up for my newsletter below!

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