The seasoning is perhaps the most noticeable difference in Puerto Rican cookery.. You must think of pepper, lime rind, cinnamon, cloves, fresh ginger, garlic and the juice of the sour orange. Some favorite herbs are culantro(coriander), and orégano.These, together with small sweet peppers are widely used to flavor soups, meats and legumes. The real secret of the cocina criolla, however, lies in the use of sofrito, achiote lard and the caldero.The mortar and pestle, used to grind small quantities of seasonings to a small paste is indispensable in the Puerto Rican household.
Sofrito is a combination of ingredients used as a seasoning to give a distinctive, characteristic taste to many native dishes.The caldero or cauldron is an iron or cast-aluminum kettle with round bottom and straight sides used to cook the arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and many other dishes. The use of this pot or a similar heavy kettle is indispensable to cook a good rice recipe.
One of the contributions to the Caribbean diet are the plátanos or plantains which may be eaten green or ripe and can be fried, baked, boiled or roasted and served either whole or in slices.The leaves of the plantain plant are used to wrap up foods to be boiled or baked such as the delicious pasteles.
Rice is a mainstay of the Puerto Rican diet and it can be prepared in a variety of ways be it "white" served with kidney beans or prepared with gandules (pigeon peas) or garbanzos (chick-peas) or in a variety of other delicious ways...( just try a well-made rice with chicken).
Soups are a popular beginning for meals in Puerto Rico or a full meal by themselves such as the sopón de pollo con arróz (chicken soup with rice), sopón de pescado (fish soup) or sopón de garbanzos con patas de cerdo (chick peas soup with pig's feet). Not really a soup, one of the most traditional of dishes is the asopao,a hearty gumbo made with fish or chicken. Every Puerto Rican chef has his own recipe for asopao. Asopao de pollo might take a whole chicken, which is flavored with spices such as garlic, paprika and orégano as well with salt pork, cured ham, green peppers, chili peppers,onions, tomatoes,chorizos and pimentos. If the budget is low an asopao de gandules will still be a hearty meal. An amazing number of ingredients, notably local vegetables, plantains and meats go into the sancocho, a type of Caribbean soup which is a true delicacy..
The roasted or barbecued pig is a favorite for Christmas and other occasions, the pig being roasted in an open pit, a process that takes a few hours. It is traditional for picnics and alfresco parties where the aroma of this dish wafting through the palm trees is enticing and appetizing.The pig is basted with sour orange juice and achiote coloring.The lechón asado is best when the pig's skin is golden and absolutely crisp..The traditional dressing served with the pig is the aji-li-mojili, a sauce combining garlic,sweet seeded chili peppers, flavored further with vinegar, lime juice, salt and olive oil.
A favorite side dish are the tostones, made from plátanos
(green plantains) which are sliced, fried lightly, then are crushed
and placed back on the frying pan to be fried again to a crunchy golden
The best-loved street snacks are the deep-fried codfish fritter(bacalaítos fritos), pastelillos(deep-fried cheese and meat turn-overs), and alcapurrias, banana croquettes stuffed with beef or pork.
The abundant tropical fruits are used to prepare delicious juices or
nectars to freshen up the tropical heat--a favorite is pineapple juice
from some of the most sweetest pineapples in the world...Coconut, papaya,
lime and tamarind are among other delicacies worth trying. Mangoes from
the western part of the island are among the sweetest of fruits..
Puerto Rican desserts include the pudding or custard flan and the tembleque..Papaya cubes cooked in sugar and cinnamon must be accompanied by white cheese(queso blanco). Arróz con dulce is made of cooked rice and coconut cream, sugar and cinnamon.
Puerto Ricans are heavy coffee drinkers and Puerto Rican coffee is among the best in the world..islanders like their coffee real strong, some drink it black, others as café-con-leche.
Puerto Rican Rums are known world-wide as the best as they are aged
for years according to law..enjoy Rum
and Coke (Cuba Libre) which is one of the local favorites. Rum is also
the basis for the famous Piña
Colada together with coconut cream, and pineapple juice. Although Bacardi
is the brand most sold in the US, for Puerto Ricans the best of rums is
Don Q Rum.
1. Péla los plátanos, córtalos
en "slices" de 1 pulgada y remójalos en el agua con sal por 15 minutos.
2. Frie los plátanos hasta que esten hechos pero no tostados. Drena el aceite y ponlos a un lado.
3. En un pilón mueles los ajos, añade el aceite de oliva y mezcle bien.
Remueva del pilón y pon a un lado.
4. Muele en el pilón parte de los plátanos ya fritos en "slices" con parte del chicharrón. Añada algo de la mezcla del ajo molido con el aceite y mezcla bien con los plátanos
5. Con una cuchara forma la mezcla en bolas de una 3 pulgadas de diámetro. Sirvase caliente...
(es rico servido con masitas de carne de cerdo fritas...Oh, my God..!!!)