Popular Side Dishes

Puerto Rico

Patacon or toston fried and flattened pieces of green plantain, traditional snack or accompaniment in the Caribbean

Puerto Ricans have an obsession with fried food and pork. Most meals include fried appetizers, tostones being the island favorite, with rice and bean, stews, soups and other meals. “Mofongo” with fried pork with stews and soups. Small bit size “pastelillos”, “empanadas” or “empanadillas” are filled with cheese, pork, chicken or beef and can be a start to a meal. Puerto Rico has become popular for their fried food, which can be found in parts of the U.S.


From the Spanish verb “tostar” which means to toast, “tostones” are made from a sliced green plantain. Plantains look fairly similar to a banana, but they are much larger and greener on the outside. The plantains can be sliced width or length-wise, though the width-wise circles are much easier to cook and eat. “Tostones” are served as sides, or a street-side snack all over Puerto Rico. They are a simple dish, but the crispy sweetness of tostones is most definitely something you need to try.

Arroz con Gandules

Arroz con gandules is a combination of rice, pigeon peas and pork, cooked in the same pot with “sofrito” (also referred to as sazón). It is one of the signature dishes of Puerto Rican cuisine. This dish is mainly served during Christmas season or for special occasions. The sofrito is the most important part of seasoning the rice. In Puerto Rican, “sofrito” is used as a base in many recipes.

El Pegao

Any rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot is called “pegao” and is crispy and tasty and a favorite of all true Puerto Ricans. Once the rice is served, the “pegao” is scraped out and distributed as a treat.


Fried sweet plantains are a staple food in Puerto Rico, that you will find on restaurant menus around the island. Along with “tostones”, “amarillos” or “maduros” as they may be called, aren’t unique to Puerto Rico. But they sure are popular, and with good reason. The sweet counterpart to the savory “tostones”, “amarillos”, which means yellows”, are absolutely superb when fried until the edges are a crispy golden brown color.

Yuca Frita

“Yuca Frita” is a starchy staple vegetable in Puerto Rico that is used in much the same way as potatoes. In this tasty recipe it is deep fried like French fries and is served with garlicky mojo sauce. Enjoyed throughout Central and South America, parts of Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean, “yuca” is the tuberous root of the cassava plant, which is also used to make tapioca. “Yuca” is similar in shape to a sweet potato, but with a rough, brown, waxy skin that looks more like a tree root than a regular potato.

Empanadillas or pastelillos

“Empanadas” have a long history. They are made by many cultures and called many different names, including “empanadilla” or “pastelillo”. An empanada is a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling, common in Spain, Latin American and Filipino cultures. The name comes from the Spanish verb “empanar”, and literally translates as “enbreaded”, that is, wrapped or coated in bread. They are made by folding dough over a filling, which may consist of meat, cheese or other ingredients, and then cooking the resulting turnover, either by baking or frying.

Patacon or toston fried and flattened pieces of green plantain, traditional snack or accompaniment in the Caribbean

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