Cooking and Food in Puerto Rico
Cooking Puerto Rican style
Heather Little-White, Contributor
Cooking and Food in Puerto Rico - Puerto Rican cuisine reflects the rich
heritage and cultural potpourri of the northern Caribbean island. Before Columbus landed, Puerto Rico served as a
bridge between the Caribbean and the north coast of South America.
The racial mix includes Tainos and later Spaniards, Africans, Chinese, Italians, French, German
Americans also visited the island, later followed by Cubans fleeing the Communist state of Cuba.
The latest arrivals were from the Dominican Republic to add to the racial variety in the country.
Though Puerto Rican cooking styles are in some ways similar to Spanish, Cuban and Mexican
cuisine, they are unique, giving a tasty blend of Spanish, Taino, African and American influences.
The cuisine, cocina criolla, started with the first inhabitants, the Tainos, the natives
Christopher Columbus found, who used foods which are still part of the cuisine today. Examples are yucca (cassava),
peppers, seafood and corn. Barbecue, invented by the Tainos, is still influencing grill/jerk cuisine in the
The Spanish brought beef, pork, rice, wheat and olive oil and the Africans brought with them
okra and taro. The mingling of flavours and ingredients has been passed down through generations to different ethnic groups have settled on the island, creating the exotic blend of
today's cooking styles in Puerto Rico.
There are two magical words essential to Puerto Rican cookery as it relates to spice. The first
is adobo, a blend of ingredients crushed and mixed in a mortar and pestle and rubbed into poultry and meats to
impart a unique seasoning.
The other is sofrito, a combination of ingredients used as a flavouring to give
a distinctive taste to native dishes.
Puerto Rican food is cooked in a cauldron or caldero, which is a cast-iron pan with round bottom and straight
sides. The caldero bring flavours together in dishes such as stews, which are popular in that island's diet.
Puerto Rican Beef Stew includes chunks of beef, green peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro,
potatoes and whatever else the cook likes. Seeded raisins are added on special occasions. Dishes like Breaded
Calf's Brains (sesos empanados) and calf's kidneys (riñones guisados) are popular among Puerto Ricans.
Fruits in Puerto Rico grow everywhere and as you go through the roads you can just pick and eat
them. A great selection of fruits can be seen everywhere from mangos, bananas and avocados to cherries and
coconuts. Check our page about fruits in Puerto Rico.
Starches include breadfruit prepared in a number of ways to serve as an accompaniment to
entrees. Plantains are very important to the island's agriculture. Plantains are even imported from Costa Rica and
Dominican Republic to meet the high demand for plantains in Puerto Rico.
When green, they are called platanos verde; in a ripened state, they are termed amarillos.
Plantains are fried, boiled, roasted or baked in interesting dishes.
Plantain leaves are used to wrap up certain foods which are baked or boiled. Puerto Rican
ancestors would have placed their plantains with the ambers under the roasting pig.
Today, plantains are roasted by placing them on the grill over high heat until the skin is
black. Then lower to medium heat, cooking until plantain is soft. Ripe plantains can be roasted in the same way,
but for half the time.
Plantains can also be used to make pastels, made in the same fashion as Jamaican dukunnu, but
with savoury fillings of pork and garbanzo beans. Mfongo is made by mashing twice fried plantains and combining
with garlic, olive oil and bacon. Candied plantains are used for dessert.
Like Jamaicans, chicken is popular among Puerto Ricans and is flavoured with different spices
and seasonings. The most popular dish is Chicken with Rice (arroz con pollo). Other favourites are Chicken in
Sherry (pollo al jerez) and Sweet and Sour Chicken (pollo agridulce).
Fish and shellfish are favourites for tourists and natives alike. Fish is fried and served with
a Puerto Rican sauce (mojo isleno) similar to Jamaica's escoveitched fish. Fresh fish is often grilled and shrimp
is often cooked in beer and crab is boiled (jueyes hervidos). Eggs are used regularly to make Spanish Omelette (tortilla Española), cooked with onions, cubed potatoes and olive
Desserts are made from produce, for example Sweet Potato Balls with Coconut and Cinnamon and Sweet Potato Cake. Guava cakes, guava jelly, guava pudding and guava paste are
popular, as is the Puerto Rican pumpkin cake.
Coconut is the most common ingredient in desserts. There is coconut flan, coconut cream
desserts, coconut squares, coconut meringue and candied coconut rice and coconut bread pudding.
Cooking and Food in Puerto Rico is influenced by several cultures and, despite
the influence of American fast foods, that island's cuisine is still an exciting tradition.
Hope you find in Map Puerto Rico great restaurants and places to
eat and enjoy the traditional cooking in Puerto Rico. Map Puerto
Rico provides most of Cooking and Food
in Puerto Rico information as accurate as possible but keep in mind that changes beyond our
control may make some of this information inaccurate. If you have questions or want to report problems to us,
please contact us.
For other Puerto Rican food and cooking check out http://www.recipehound.com/Recipes/puertorico.html