Puerto Rico cooking bears Spanish, Taino, African and American influences. This culture enjoys hearty, flavorful meals that have a bit of spice. Puerto Ricans prepare their most popular dishes with foods that are native to the island, such as plantains, sweet potatoes and coconuts. Everyone is sure to find a favorite among the delicious cuisine served on this beautiful Caribbean island.
In the United States, side dishes such as mashed potatoes and chicken-flavored rice are staples in our meals. In Puerto Rico, mofongo is a staple in most households, according to Whats 4 Eats website. Mofongo, which is one of the most popular foods in Puerto Rico, is a dish of mashed plantains, garlic, olive oil and salt, cooked in a skillet until it is heated through, but not browned. Another popular Puerto Rican food is arroz con gandules, which is a rice and pigeon peas side dish. It is more flavorful than most rice dishes in the U.S. because it has additions such as capers, green olives and tomato sauce.
Asopao de gandules is a popular stew in Puerto Rico. This thick, spicy stew is full of flavor from such ingredients as bell pepper, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, rice and pigeon peas. Another popular soup, pollo guisado, is made with chicken, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and cilantro, among other ingredients. Serving this soup with salad and bread makes for a filling, spicy meal.
Pork is a popular food in Puerto Rico. It is not uncommon to find roadside stands with whole pigs roasting on a spit for sale. Pernil al horno is a classic dish made from pork marinated in oregano, garlic and vinegar and roasted until it is tender enough to fall off the bone. Carne frita con cebolla--fried beefsteak flavored with onions--is a staple in many Puerto Rican homes, according to the Welcome to Puerto Rico website. Veal, lamb and chicken dishes are common in the Puerto Rican household with flavors from a Creole seasoning called adobo.
Flan is a favorite dessert in Puerto Rico. A custard-type dessert, flan consists of eggs, condensed milk, sugar and vanilla. Flavorings such as cocoa, pumpkin, coconut or pineapple create an amazing dessert. Puerto Ricans make use of their native fruits in their desserts, such as oranges, guava or banana flavored cakes, muffins and cookies. Puerto Rican cooks use pumpkin in desserts, soups and as a vegetable side dish due to its rich flavor. Sweet potatoes are the major ingredient in nisperos de batata--sweet potato balls flavored with coconut, cinnamon and cloves.