Back in 2003 when I first started blogging, I posted a recipe for arroz a la Cubana with a photo taken with my first digital camera — a point-and-shoot Olympus. I didn’t know if it originated from Cuba but I knew the meat-rice-egg-banana dish by no other name. Arroz means rice. Arroz a la Cubana is a rice-and-meat dish served with fried egg (sunny side up!), slices of fried saba bananas and steamed or boiled rice.
I have always assumed that arroz a la Cubana found its way to the Philippines via Spain. Cuba was under Spanish rule just like the Philippines. Spanish rule of Cuba ended at the same time that Spanish colonization of the Philippines ended — with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The Philippines was ceded to the United States by Spain along with Puerto Rico and Guam for 20 million dollars. Cuba which Spain has historically regarded as a province rather than a colony became a U.S. protectorate.
A reader and fellow food blogger, Nathan, commented:
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”
P.S. I think it’s interesting and cool how different cultures interpret or adapt different dishes :)
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The photo that accompanied the 2003 recipe was updated (and upgraded) over the years but the recipe stayed the same. Now comes the latest incarnation of my arroz a la Cubana with new photos and a new recipe.
Arroz a la Cubana
Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a shallow pan. Spread the ground beef on the entire bottom of the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook without disturbing until browned underneath. Stir to break up lumps and continue cooking until evenly browned.
Add the minced garlic, chopped onion and oregano. Continue cooking, with occasional stirring, until the onion bits soften.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Stir. Taste. Add more salt and pepper, as needed. Cover and simmer until chunky, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the components of the arroz a la Cubana.
Heat the remaining cooking oil in a frying pan.
Peel the saba bananas and split each one lengthwise. Fry both sides in hot oil until browned. Scoop out and set aside.
In the remaining oil, fry the eggs sunny side up with runny yolks.
To assemble the dish, ladle hot rice on a plate. Top with an egg. Spoon the meat and sauce on one side. Arrange the fried bananas on the opposite side. Sprinkle with sliced onion leaves. Serve at once.