Cuban fried rice

Cuban fried rice

Arroz a la Cubana

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

My mother cooked this quick dish regularly when we were growing up. It felt like a special treat for my brother and me: breakfast eggs and dinner mince rolled into one. She never mentioned its name, so I assumed it was her own creation. Years later, I discovered it was classic Filipino comfort food.

Tradition calls for rice to be moulded in a bowl, then inverted onto each serving plate, but it is up to you. While access to fresh saba bananas is limited outside of the Philippines, frozen saba are available from Filipino grocery stores — just defrost before using.


Quantity Ingredient
90ml vegetable oil
1 potato, cut into 5 mm cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
300g minced pork
300g minced beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
30g raisins or sultanas
40g fresh or frozen peas, (optional)
4 saba bananas, sliced lengthwise into thirds
steamed rice, to serve
4 eggs


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the potato and cook for 10 minutes, stirring until tender. Transfer to a bowl and reserve the pan to cook the bananas.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a separate large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring until soft. Add the pork and beef, and cook for 8 minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon, until the meat has browned and the liquid has evaporated. Add the soy and Worcestershire sauces, raisins, potatoes and peas, if using. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the mince is well browned. Season with salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil in the reserved pan over medium–high heat. Add the bananas and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and slightly caramelised.
  4. Place a mound of steamed rice on each plate, then divide the bananas and meat mixture among the plates.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan over medium–high heat. Cook the eggs, sunny side up, for 4 minutes, or until the whites are cooked and yolks slightly runny. Divide the fried eggs among plates, then season to serve.

Where does it come from?

  • Arroz a la Cubana, literally Cuban rice, is not a direct Cuban descendant; however, it bears a striking resemblance to picadillo, one of the country’s traditional dishes. Picadillo, from the verb ‘picar’ meaning ‘to mince/chop’ can be found throughout Latin America. In the Philippines, the dish is also known as giniling.
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