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Puerto Rican food

  • drmimi Jun 14, 2007 04:04 PM
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I have a new man in my life from Puerto Rico. I would like to surprise him with Puerto Rican or Cuban dishes. Anyone with relatively simple flan, moors and christians, sofrito, plantano or yucca recipes? We live in Northern California and sadly cannot find those wonderful large light green avocados easily. Anybody know of a produce place in the North Bay, SF or East Bay that might carry a few?

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  1. Question...what is so wonderful about those large light green avocados? The fact that they are watery and tastless explains why you can't find them in Northern California.

    6 Replies
    1. re: OldTimer

      Google Puertorican recipes,cuchifrito or comidas creole and you may find what your looking for

      1. re: scunge

        I know I can google for this...just hoping for some chowhound tested recipes:)

      2. re: OldTimer

        umm, actually the ones I got in Chicago were neither watery or tasteless:) Food from the Caribbean has very different flavor notes from cuisine from our parts. I think the lack of supply is due to the relatively small numbers of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Cubans on the west coast compared to those from Mexico and Central America.

        I find the Hass avocados no great prize for me although I have settled for them since 1986 since I moved to the west coast. They are used in cooking in the Southwest, Mexico and Central American cooking. I love these cuisines but have a special place in my heart for food from the Caribbean as I lived in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia before I came to the left coast.

        1. re: OldTimer

          With all due respect to your California avocados which I like for certain things, just like you love what you grew up with...so do we. The light avocados have a different taste and texture that goes perfect with our kind of cuisine. Nothing like a well made plate of white rice with pink beans and slices of light avocado.... so be nice.

          To answer the question on the post, look for the following book: Puerto Rican Dishes (English version of the classic "Cocine a Gusto")
          Check this websites out: el colmadito.com (ask your man to translate), prcooking.com, plazaguaitiao.com.

          Here is my recipe for Red or Pink Beans (Habichuelas guisadas)

          1 tablespoon canola oil
          2 tablespoons good quality sofrito
          1/2 diced white or yellow onion
          3-4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
          1/2 cup tomato sauce
          1/2 tsp salt
          2 cups red or pink beans (soaked overnight-ready to go)
          2 cups of water
          Pinch of white sugar (optional)
          1/4 cup diced smoked ham or bacon (jamon de cocinar-optional)
          1/4 cup spanish green olives (optional)

          Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, add sofrito and tomato sauce and cook for another few minutes. Add beans, salt and optional ingredients if desired and cook over medium heat until sauce is nice and thick or ~25 minutes.

          There are a million variations to this dish so you can play with it, but I would dare say almost all Puerto Ricans eat this almost every day...or at least we would like to :-)
          It is important that you find or learn to make good sofrito for any of the mixed rice dishes and creole sauces. Recipe must include tons of onions,garlic, green peppers and culantro (similar to cilantro BUT NOT THE SAME- we also call it Recao) I could give you my grandma's sofrito recipe but I'd have to kill you ;-)

          The recipe for ropa vieja above is good...but we do not eat that in Puerto Rico. There are a lot of Cuban dishes that are not at all typical in PR.

          I would put together the following menu for him:

          Slow cooked garlic pork roast (lechon asado)
          Arroz con Gandules (rice with pigeon peas)
          Mofongo
          Dulce de lechoza or tembleque for dessert...

          He'll be so happy...

          Good luck!

          1. re: yomyb

            Thanks for the recipe. I am lucky that I have a "Newyorican" friend whose mama comes periodically to California.

            Perhaps I can talk her out of her sofrito recipe...

            Humm death by sofrito sounds almost as exciting as death by chocolate...

            1. re: yomyb

              Habichuelas guisadas aare one of my favorite bean dishes! Sometimes I havee hadpieces of pumpkin or potato with it. THe green olives make the dish!

          2. These sites will help: http://www.recipehound.com/Recipes/pu..., and http://www.elboricua.com/recipes.html.

            A lot of PR food is made with Sofrito, an herb blend with lots of cilantro, garlic, onion, and other good stuff (search this board b/c I posted a recipe that will knock you socks off. I use it as a maranade and sauce too).

            My PR friend made me fried green plantains that are too die for, and pigeon beans and rice or cube steak are popular meals.

            Have fun!

            5 Replies
            1. re: xnyorkr

              In Latin America a sofrito is not a dish but a starting base of sauteed brunoise of onion, garlic, possibly tomato, possibly carrots. Our version of a mirepoix.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I think there are numerous variations on sofrito... in Mexico alone there are three regional variations that I know of.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Agreed. There are an infinite set of variations because--in the Andean countries--a sofrito is a base on which to build dishes, not a finished dish itself.

              2. re: xnyorkr

                both url's came up as "page cannot be found."

                Help.

                1. re: drmimi

                  Oh, my sorry about that. They did for me too. Here's the recipezaar one: http://www.recipezaar.com/recipes/pue..., and if that doesn't work, go to Recipezaar.com > (select by cuisine of region) North American > Caribbean > Puerto Rican.

                  And El Boricua is http://www.elboricua.com. You will hear some fun music too, to get you in the mood!

                  Hope this helps

              3. From your request, it looks like you only want vegetarian dishes. If I'm wrong about that, here's my favorite recipe for Ropa Vieja. It makes enough for 4 hearty eaters, served with rice and beans, or for 6 normal people.

                Ropa Vieja

                1½ lb. skirt steak (flank steak is okay, too)
                2 tablespoons salt
                2 bay leaves
                ¼ cup olive oil
                ¼ cup vegetable oil
                1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
                1 large onion, cut in thin wedges
                1 red pepper, julienned
                1 green pepper, julienned
                ¼ cup white wine
                ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
                ½ teaspoon ground cumin
                ½ teaspoon dried oregano
                1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

                1. Place beef with salt and bay leaves in water to cover plus 2 inches and bring to a boil. After the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1½ hours. Remove meat and RESERVE BROTH. (I put that in capital letters because, if I don't, I'll forget and toss it, like pasta water.) Shred meat and set aside.

                2. Combine olive oil and vegetable oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion and peppers together for 3-4 minutes.

                3. Add wine, spices, tomato sauce, and 1½ cups of the reserved broth and cook for 2 minutes more. Add shredded beef and let ingredients cook together until just warmed through.

                Serve with white or yellow rice and black or red beans.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Deenso

                  Vegetarian dishes only? Surely you jest.:) This guy definitely is a meat eater. I can grill just about anything. Just need to find a group of friends so we can roast a pig. I have been around the roast in the ground kind (dominican) and Caja China kind.

                  In Petaluma it has been too dang hot to do much cooking inside. We are having a "hotter than usual" summer and most folks here including myself do not have AC. Fortunately the natural breeze kicks in after 4 pm or so.

                  1. re: drmimi

                    If he's a meat eater, I'm sure he'd love a pernil, which doesn't actually take that long to cook. I marinate mine in a mojo, but you can just as well whip up a rub and serve extra garlic sauce on the side with some tostones.

                2. I highly recommend Daisy Martinez' cookbook, Daisy Cooks. On her website are a few recipes, including sofrito.http://www.daisycooks.com/pages/recip...
                  I recently purchased a tostonera (on ebay) for easily making wonderful tostones--I just peel ripe plaintains, slice about 1 inch thick, cook in shallow hot oil (I use canola) till both sides just turn golden and soften a bit, smash in tostonera (or with mallet) and refry in hot(ter) oil till golden and crispy. I like to serve with a simple mojo (garlic, olive oil and lemon or lime juice). Have fun!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Marge

                    That's funny, her show just came on and I was going to post about her! Look for Daisy Cooks on your local Public TV stations.

                    1. re: Marge

                      Her recipe for sofrito is a lot like mine. One thing that adds a **lot** to it is culantro, a veg that looks nothing like cilantro but tastes like cilantro-squared. Mmmm!

                    2. I LOVE baccalau (spelling ?). One of the server's at Casa Adela (they have the best baccalau!) even told me how to make it. You start with salted cod (Essex Street Market has it), I forgot the rest of the ingredients except for a little beer (Colt 45). After reading this I'm craving baccalau (Puerto Rican version. Brazilian version has a white sauce and I prefer the red sauce). Good luck and happy cooking!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        We make bacalaitos which is salted cod fritters. We also serve bacalao guisado (salt cod in creole sauce with olive oil tomatoes, olives, capers garlic onions etc) with guineitos en escabeche (which is a particular kind of green banana that is not sweet, more like a plantain I would say, cooked with tons of black peppercorns, onions, garlic and vinegar...literally to die for) or plain boiled root vegetables. We also have serenata de bacalao which is just bacalao with olive oil, onions, potatoes, and eggs and we also make the bacalao itself in escabeche. For salty food lovers like myself...all of these are wonderful. Look for recipes online, they are easy to find.

                        1. re: yomyb

                          Thanks, yomyb. Better yet, I'll find some in Puerto Rico (my first time there) this summer.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            In Yucca heaven! My next door neighbors gave me a bit of prepared Yucca today. Good eatin'. My neighbor hipped me to a sofrito source in Santa Rosa, just up the road from Petaluma where I live. A grocery store called Lola's. It's a Latino based food store that I have gone to before.

                          2. re: yomyb

                            do you have the recipe for bacalao without tomatoes? i love it!

                        2. Puerto Rican Rice & Beans

                          Recipe Ingredients:

                          Ingredients: Beans

                          - ½ onion white or yellow diced per 2 cans of beans
                          - 1 packet of SAZON Goya seasoning, per can of beans
                          - 1 can of drained & rinsed beans (per 3-4 people) (pinquito, or pink beans {Bush's Red beans will work in a pinch}, My Mom's favorite are the Pink Beans 'guisadas' by Goya)
                          - ½ can of tomato sauce per can of beans
                          - 1 medium peeled potato per can of beans (chopped coarsely)
                          - 1/4 smoked pork chop (de-boned & diced) (pork fat back works also) per can of beans
                          (or sub w/ 1 envelope Ham flavoring from Latin / Spanish section in Grocery Store)
                          - 1 (tomato sauce) can of water per can of tomato sauce
                          - 1 to 2 bay leaves (laurel)
                          - 1/4 cup sofrito per can of beans (to make sofrito in a blender pulse
                          fine (but don't liquefy), 1 Green Pepper, 1 lg onion, 1 big bunch of
                          cleaned and chopped Cilantro, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons
                          vinegar & 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil [store unused sofrito in freezer).

                          Ingredients: Rice

                          - ½ cup of rice per person (raw rice) In PR we used Sello Rojo (California Pearl) Good luck finding this stateside. Mahatma Gold Long Grain converted rice is the most screw up proof.
                          - ½ onion diced per 2 cups of rice
                          - 2 cloves garlic
                          - 2 tablespoons butter (Margarine will work, do not use a water based product)
                          - Salt to taste
                          - Water – equal amount to rice (I.e. – 1 cup rice, use 1 cup water)

                          Recipe Instructions:

                          Rice
                          Heat pot to medium low heat. Melt butter and add 1 clove pressed (or
                          chopped very fine) garlic. When the butter absorbs the garlic (about
                          three to four minutes) use to Sauté onion. When the onion starts to
                          caramelize (turn light brown) add rice and stir in with
                          butter/garlic/onion sauce. After the rice is coated with the sautéed
                          ingredients add the water in the correct proportion. Add 1\4 teaspoon
                          salt per cup of rice (or to taste after it's done). Bring to a rolling
                          boil at medium high heat. When the water level boils down to the top
                          of the rice, stir gently scrapping bottom completely then turn fire
                          down to low, cover tightly in a very tight sealing pot. (The
                          rice really cooks with steam) DO NOT STIR OR OPEN THE LID. The rice
                          needs to be fluffed gently with a fork in about 20 minutes. (alternatively if you don't want pegao (which we fought over as kids) stir once at the 10 minute mark and cover again promptly add 2 minutes to cooking time remaining) [pegao literally means the rice stuck to the bottom of the caldero, the Puerto Rican cooking pot, usually its crispy brown and loaded with flavor]

                          Beans
                          In a medium to large covered pot (depends on quantity cooked) heat to
                          medium add 1 tablespoon butter. Sauté smoked pork, add onions when
                          done (or saute onions & add ham flavoring packet), add sofrito & saute
                          approx. 3-4 min. Add beans, bay leaf, sazon seasoning, potatoes,
                          tomato sauce, and water to ingredients. Bring to gentle boil (This
                          will burn on high) and reduce by 1/3 (patience pays off big here). To thicken remove 1 cup of the coarsely chopped potatoes when they pierce easily with a fork and mash
                          in a cup. Return to the beans stirring gently. Serve over the rice.
                          Note: You can omit the sofrito, and it will taste good; but it won't
                          have the real island taste!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: okmerlin

                            Great about the man!!!! This is what I tell everyone who has problem finding ethnic specific items like Green Plantains, Maduros, CULANTRO -- the best and not to be confused with CILANTRO which is also GREAT. Culantro is like the male version of cilantro if that makes any sense.

                            Anyway -- have problems finding anything -- go to the supermarket's manager of whatever dept you are having problems with. Lots of times these supermarkets are so busy, they don't have a chance to keep up with the changing American palate.(did i spell the right?)

                            Daisy's book is great. Memories of a Cuban Kitchen is a good primer -- here is the amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Memories-Cuban-...

                            She has a picadillo to die for. Want to surprise your the new man in your life -- try tostones rellenos topped with picadillo. The tostonera that I use is Tostobueno. Just google the name.

                            But just ask your supermarket manager -- they will get the items for you. And if they don't let me know. I'm curious.

                          2. I recently made a few recipes from this book, and I had very good results: http://www.amazon.com/Puerto-Rican-Co...
                            I also like watching Daisy on PBS for ideas and recipes as someone already mentioned above. Also, check the goya.com, many simple recipes can be found there.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ora

                              Memories of a Cuban Kitchen is one of my favorite cookbooks. It's as much a pleasure to read as to cook with. But Cuban is not the same as Puerto Rican, so you really should invest in Daisy's book.