Arroz a la Cubana

Arroz a la CubanaI’m re-posting this recipe for two reasons. First, this photo is better than the old one. Second, I wanted to create links to the other saba banana recipes that have accumulated since I first posted this wonderful rice dish called Arroz a la Cubana. I don’t really know if it originated from Cuba but I know it by no other name. I only know that this dish was introduced to the Philippines by the Spaniards. “Arroz” means rice. Arroz a la Cubana is basically a stew using ground beef instead of chunks, and served with fried egg (sunny side up!), slices of fried saba bananas and steamed or boiled rice.

Saba banana has thick yellow-brownish skin and is never eaten raw. It can be boiled or steamed in its skin, peeling it just before eating. As a dessert or snack, it can be boiled minus its skin in water and brown sugar (in this form, it can be bottled and preserved); fried with brown sugar and skewered on bamboo sticks (banana-que); dipped in a mixture of flour and egg, fried then rolled in sugar (maruya); or used whole, usually with jackfruit, as an egg roll filling then deep-fried (turon). Another popular sweet snack, guinataang halo-halo, has chunks of saba, kamote (sweet potatoes), sago (tapiocal balls) and bilo-bilo (sticky rice balls) in thick coconut milk. Finally, the most recent addition to my medley of saba banana dessert, from a recipe sent by reader Sam, saba bananas with honey, sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon.

As an ingredient to an entree, it is peeled, fried separately then mixed with tomato based stews like pochero (Spanish beef stew), or served on the side, as with Arroz a la Cubana. It is so versatile and, if cooked at the correct stage of ripeness, it is soft, sweet and really delicious. Arroz a la Cubana is rather plain without it.


  • Steamed or boiled rice
    1/2 kilo ground beef (use sirloin or top round)
    3 carrots, cubed
    3 potatoes, cubed
    1/2 c. of sweet peas
    2 bell peppers, chopped
    2 tbsp. of raisins (optional)
    1 tbsp. minced garlic
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 tomatoes, chopped
    1/4 c. of tomato paste
    finely chopped parsley
    pinch of basil
    3 tbsp. c. of olive oil
    1/4 c. vegetable cooking oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    6 eggs, fried sunny-side-up
    8 saba bananas, each sliced diagonally into 3, fried


  1. Heat a heavy skillet. Add 1/4 c. of cooking oil. Heat to smoking point. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots. Fry until the edges turn a light brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    Pour off the oil from the skillet. Pour in the olive oil. Add ground beef, breaking it up. Cook over high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, bell peppers and raisins, if using. Cook, stirring, just until the vegetables start to soften. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir to blend well. Add the sweet peas. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds then put the carrots and potatoes back in. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the basil and parsley. Give it one last stir then turn off the heat.

    Serve with rice, an egg and fried saba bananas on the side.

Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes (including time to cook eggs and saba bananas)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: supper

  • knickknack

    Hi! I’m a Filipino living in New York, and absolutely love this dish. It’s even better if you mix everything (including the egg) before you eat it, and add a little bit of Knorr or Maggi seasoning (US residents, check Asian or Filipino stores).
    However, I don’t think you can call it a “stew” because a stew would mean that it has a thick sauce/soup that the meat was boiled in. What I know with Arroz ala Cubana is that it is fried.
    The whole term, Arroz ala Cubana actually means “Cuban rice,” which people can easily order here in the US at Cuban restaurants. Saba around here is called Plantain, which is also available in Latin American supermarkets. ;>

  • ponkan

    Actually, Saba bananas are not quite the same thing as Plantains. Saba are shorter physically, though I don’t know how different they are as far as taste and firmness go.

    Though you’re absolutely right about mixing it all up, that’s the only way we eat it back home.

  • Connie

    I agree, Ponkan. Saba is NOT the same as plantain. In fact, saba has no equivalent in the west.

    • critchie_99

      Saba is called Burro banana and can be purchased in any Hispanic, Filipino or Asian supermarkets

  • pinaygourmet

    i already published this in zaar recipe you prick..

  • Connie

    Pinaygourmet, so you’re the thief that published my entry there. Your IP has been duly recorded.

  • chang

    Love this dish. Im a filipino and my husband is white. The first time i cooked this, my husband loves it. So i included this in my cycle. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  • Geri

    It calls for two tomatoes but I don’t see when they get added! With the tomato paste?!

  • Connie

    With the garlic, onions and bell peppers. Hmmm, gotta edit the entry. Missed that.

    • Adz

      hi Connie,

      When will i use the olive oil? Thanks.

      • Connie

        Oops, sorry about that. I corrected the recipe.

  • mara

    very useful!!!!!!as in… thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • quichelorraine

    Hi there Connie, I’d like to know what’s the tagalog word for “1/2 c. of sweet peas”? Thank you. ;p

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  • kaye

    hi,ive been lurking on your website for quite some time now and tried some of your recipes and they are always a big hit to my family. keep up the good work. I had the opportunity to they some real Cuban food the past week when i was in Miami, Florida. They have what we call the Arroz a la Cubana, they call it the Picadillo a la Criolla. it is not served with fried egg though. Just with rice, fried plantains and black beans. The Picadillo is made with lean ground beef, potatoes stewed in tomato sauce. The fried plantains are not as sweet as our saba and they are firmer. I prefer our saba. The cuban food is more less similar to ours from what ive seen in the list of food that they serve. They have lechon asado, its like our lechon but with sauce…of course im biased that our lechon is better.

  • Nathan

    Hello, I just wanted to share some info I know about this dish.

    “Arroz a la Cubana” would translate to “Rice Cuban Style”

    In Spain “Arroz a la Cubana” is consumed with fried eggs, over rice, served with a tomato sauce and fried plantains. (my grandmother is Spaniard and lived in Cuba many years up until 1960′s and my grandfather is Cuban born of Spaniard grandparents since most Cubans of pre-castro before 1960′s had Spaniard parentage or grandparents, etc. until most of the population fled due to revolution)

    In Cuba or “Cuban culture” and food, we don’t even call it “Arroz a la Cubana” it’s just “Huevo Frito Con Arroz” (translates to “Fried Egg with Rice”) , very simple just fried egg over rice and some salt, then break and mix, it can be eaten alone or with fried plantains or even fried sliced potatoes (cut in cubes or like french fries)

    For a heartier meal, we make a Cuban ground beef hash, serve it over rice with 2 fried eggs on top and a side of plantains this is called “a caballo”


    I think it’s interesting and cool how different cultures interpret or adapt different dishes :)

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  • Joanna

    so what do i do with 2 tomatoes i chopped???

    • Connie

      I edited the recipe.

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  • Nei

    Nice! More than the recipe, i take time reading the comments. :D