Arroz a la Cubana

Between college and the start of my professional life, short-order meals were almost always the ready answer to hunger. I was struggling on my own and still living with my parents and these short-order dishes that were available at almost every street corner of Paranaque and Makati would tide me up after a night of partying.  I enjoyed eating egg with rice and with one of the many greasy processed meats only available in the city such as Tapa, Longganisa, Sinangag and in some cases even hotdogs.  At work, about the same kinds of meals were offered to the staff by the cafeterias and street vendors. These were the only meals I could really afford and at that time. I was already trying to build-up my savings; and it was not easy.

In the afternoon, just before proceeding home, a stick of sweet, deep-fried saba and even, maybe, a couple of pork BBQ filled me up before travelling for almost two hours from work to home ( because of traffic).  Traffic at the South Super Highway was immense to impossible and getting stuck in the jeepney or in the bus was mortifying. I even experienced a four-hour traffic jam in the highway at the peak of brownouts and flash floods, and I cursed being stuck on the road standing-up and being tortured by unforeseen weather conditions when these could have been readily avoided if proper city planning was made. It was a dreadful to treacherous voyage;  being soaked under the rain, looking for some light in the pitch black, flooded roads in the middle of a very busy intersection at Bicutan (where there were about twelve directions in the interchange); waiting for a jeepney at the service road to drop me off at the village gate. It was too far to walk.  In some point in time, a jetliner would overshoot the airport runway and hit the main artery of the highway aggravating an already chaotic atmosphere and adding more suffering for those living in the vicinity.

I was hungry by the time I reached home and all I really craved was warm, cooked meals with rice. I was frustrated of course, being served time-and-time again Adobo or Sinigang. Out of my frustration, I would drive to the nearest carinderia found at the village gate and eat a very, very, comforting Arroz a la Cubana.  This is a very classic dish which I do miss eating back in Manila. Saba isn’t available here in North America and having that with rice, fried egg and cooked ground pork was earth shaking.  It calmed my nerves down and knocked me out to sleep thereafter; only to repeat the same cycle the following day (if supper was boring or there was another oncoming typhoon).

This blog is dedicated to the Picadillo’s cousin; the Arroz a la Cubana.  I’ve always wanted to cook this one, but never had the chance to gather up the ingredients.


  • Ground Lamb
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked Bacon, diced
  • Spanish Onion, minced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • Plantain
  • Pimenton Dulce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Sweet Rice flour, for dredging
  • Egg

Cut the plantain into four and pan-fry both ends without cooking it thoroughly. Remove from the pan and smash each one using a potato masher. Dredge with rice flour and pan-fry the second time.  Set aside.

In a sauté pan, crisp the smoke bacon and brown the ground lamb. Set both at one side of the pan, and sauté the onion, garlic and red bell pepper. Add more oil if necessary. Season with Pimenton Dulce, brown sugar, ground black pepper and let it boil to simmer.  Season to taste.

Fry an egg according to doneness. I like mine sunny so that the yoke will ooze all over the meat and the rice.

I also omitted the raisins and peas for personal preference. Ground lamb was on sale.

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2 thoughts on “Arroz a la Cubana

  1. i first tasted arroz a la cubana while in college and i was intrigued with the ingredients -> specially with the saba on the side. back at my parent’s home we usually eat them raw, lol. will be cooking this one day…using ground pork (mahal ung lamb dito). 🙂

    appreciate much your taking the time to share and link over at Food Friday, Chef
    take care!

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