Chinese New Year calls for a variety of the most delicious Chinese dishes, and that gets me thinking about a Cuban version of fried rice known as arroz frito. This recipe has deep roots in my home growing up, as well as in Cuba’s history.
Among the various colors, creeds and ethnic backgrounds on this Caribbean island is an unmistakable Asian influence. Havana has one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in Latin America. This dish blends together the two cultures deliciously, and I grew up eating it all the time.
My favorite part of making it is that I get to use up my leftover rice, and add leftover pork, steak or chicken. Everything comes together when sprinkled with some fresh squeezed lime juice.
cuban fried rice
Read through this recipe and then decide what you want to add or omit, as there can be so many variations. You can substitute or add to the bacon. If you have leftover pork or steak, dice it and fry it up with a little oil or bacon fat. If seafood is what you want, make it with shrimp, crabmeat or lobster.
Eggs: Instead of adding the uncooked eggs to the rice mixture and frying it altogether, you can scramble the eggs first and fold them into the rice together with the bacon, garlic and scallions. One of my favorite ways is to add a fried egg sunny side up over each portion served.
2 cups leftover white, yellow or brown rice
2 lbs coarsely chopped bacon
4 eggs, whisked
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp reserved bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled & chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and warm
1 cup scallions, chopped
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
dash of tamari sauce
1 or 2 limes quartered
In a large saucepan, cook the chopped bacon in medium low heat and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic. Cook until golden and remove. Saute onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the bacon fat and the rice and stir for a couple of minutes on all sides. Add the eggs, stirring frequently.
As you continue to stir the rice mixture, add the bean sprouts, peas, followed by a dash of tamari sauce. Turn the heat off and fold in the bacon, garlic and scallions until heated through.
Remove from heat and cover for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with fresh squeezed lime before serving hot.