People often ask me: “Do you prefer sweet or savory?” Would I rather have a chocolate chip cookie or potato chips? I say yes—to both! At once, that is. I will take sweet and savory all day, any day.
The complexity of the combination of sweet and savory takes any food experience to another level. It provides layers of flavor profiles, hitting all areas of taste. Simply put, it gives your taste buds something to talk about! One of my favorite sweet and savory combinations is Filipino-style Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban-style rice).
This dish is a product of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines during the colonial times. There are a few variations of Arroz a la Cubana—some use ground pork, others use tomato sauce rather than fresh tomatoes, while some mix in raisins to add another touch of sweetness.
It is traditionally served with white rice, fried saba or plantain, and a fried egg. Filipinos, like me, can eat this any time of day—breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Arroz a la Cubana might sound fancy, but it is one of the most simple, home cooked meals anyone can make. It is the perfect dish to throw together on a busy weeknight or when you’re unwilling to exert any physical effort into dinner time.
Oh, and it makes awesome leftovers! What more could you ask for in a dish?
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
- 1 medium-sized potato, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- ½ cup beef stock
- sea salt, to taste
- fresh black pepper, to taste
- FOR THE PLANTAINS:
- vegetable oil, enough for ½ inch
- 2 plantains
- FOR THE EGGS:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4-5 large eggs, at room temperature
- In a mixing bowl, mix ground beef, soy sauce, and lemon juice together. Set aside to let the beef marinate for 15 minutes.
- While the beef is marinating, heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red bell pepper, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add in tomato and cook until it starts to crush, about 3 minutes. Stir in potato, carrot, and beef stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender and mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes, removing the lid during the last 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- ). While beef is cooking, cook the plantains. Heat a ½ inch of vegetable oil in a sauté pan. Slice plantains diagonally and place them into the hot oil. Cook until browned and caramelized, about 3 minutes per side.
- To make the eggs, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a separate skillet over medium-high heat, and heat until smoking. Break eggs into the skillet (watch out: they’re going to sputter and spit). Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until whites are completely opaque. Turn off the heat and transfer eggs to a plate.
- Serve the beef with rice, plantains, and crispy eggs.