Latin America Truly Is A Food Oasis And Here Are Some Of The Best Dishes
Known for fresh ingredients, vibrant flavors, and colorful presentation, Latin American food is popular with foodies all around the world. While staple dishes like enchiladas and quesadillas can be found in restaurants in nearly any nation, there are countless other dishes that better represent the culture and tastes of the region’s culture. Keep reading to learn some of the very best foods from countries throughout Latin America.
A popular Latin American snack or street food that’s now easy to find worldwide are empanadas. These treats can be savory or sweet. They feature a pastry pocket that’s filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, fruits, or huitlacoche, a corn mixture popular in Mexico. These pastry pockets are then baked or fried.
While not official, many consider this meal to be the national dish of Peru, though it’s also popular throughout Latin America. It features rice stewed with black beans and shredded beef. Traditionally eaten at lunchtime, it is usually served with fried plantains, also called tajadas, as well as a fried egg.
This traditional dish traces its roots back hundreds of years in Latin America. It starts with masa, which is a starchy dough made from corn. Then, other ingredients, like meat, cheese, vegetables, chilies, or even fruit are added. Finally, the concoction is wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and either steamed or boiled.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to dine at a Brazilian grill, you’ve likely heard of churrasco. While not a singular dish, the term “churrasco” actually refers to beef or even other types of grilled meat. It’s also not exclusive to Brazil. You’ll find this name on menus in a number of other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Columbia, Guatemala, and more.
The term “ropa vieja” translates to “old clothes.” This traditional Cuban dish gets its name from the shredded beef’s resemblance to a pile of torn old rags. The beef is seasoned with sofrito, which includes a mix of sauteed onions, garlic, tomatoes, and green peppers. This dish is usually served on top of black beans and rice, and may also come with a side of fried plantains.
This traditional dish features a main meat, usually beef or pork, that is cooked in a stew of black beans. This dish is usually served with rice, vegetables, and assorted sausages such as churico, farinheira, or morcela. It may also come with other side dishes to make a full meal. One popular side dish for feijoada is farofai, which is toasted manioc flour.
Often served as a side dish or even a breakfast food, a chipa is a small baked roll that is cheese flavored. While you’ll find chipas in a number of Latin American cities, Coronel Bogado in Paraguay is considered the National Capital of the Chipa.
One of the most popular types of mole is mole poblano. In fact, many people consider it to be Mexico’s national dish. It features more than 20 ingredients, including notable additions like chili and chocolate. In Mexico, you’ll often find this dish served around the holidays and for special occasions. It’s usually poured over turkey, though it can be served over any number of different dishes.
Ceviche is so popular in Peru that there’s even a national holiday dedicated to it; Dia Nacional del Cebiche. You’ll also find this dish served in Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, and other countries throughout Latin and South America, as well as throughout the Caribbean.
Ceviche features raw fish that has been cured in the juice of key limes or bitter oranges. It is then mixed with chili peppers and onion, and flavored with salt and pepper. Traditionally served in a small glass, it may also be served with avocado, corn, or other toppings.
While different nations give them different names, tostones are a popular snack throughout Latin American. They are fried plantains, often sliced thin like potato chips and seasoned with salt or other spices.
Another popular dish featuring fried plantains is mofongo. For this meal, fried plantains are mashed and a variety of seasonings and other ingredients, like onion and salt, are added.
The term “bandeja paisa” actually refers more to the type of dish rather than to the ingredients themselves. A bandeja paisa is a large meal served on a platter and featuring several traditional dishes and side dishes.
Some popular items you might find in a bandeja paisa are white rice, red beans cooked with pork, fried eggs, plantains, chorizo, and avocado. You might also find other traditional dishes, like carne molida, which is a type of ground meat, arepa, a Latin American flatbread, and morcilla, a black pudding.
Originally hailing from Venezuela, tequenos are fried cheese sticks made by wrapping bread dough around chunks of queso blanco. These treats are now a popular snack or street food in a number of nations.
Curanto may be made with a variety of types of shellfish and meats, served with either potato pancakes or potato dumplings, and a mix of seasonal vegetables. Before the heated stones are added, this dish is covered with rhubarb leaves, then wet sacks, dirt, and grass. While this is the traditional way to cook this dish, other Latin and South American countries may also bake or otherwise roast curantos.
Asado is a barbecue technique that starts with flank-cut beef ribs that are flavored with a number of spices. The beef is then cooked over a grill, also called a parilla, or more traditionally, over an open flame. Alongside the beef, you’ll also likely be served a variety of other meats, like chicken or cured sausages called embutidos, as well as sweet breads, grilled vegetables, and salad.
This simple, yet tasty dessert originated in Brazil. It is made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, which is rolled into balls and covered in chocolate sprinkles.
The word “encebollado” actually translates to “cooked with onions.” This Ecuadorian dish, sometimes called the country’s national dish, is a fish stew cooked with fresh tomatoes, coriander leaves, and a variety of spices for a flavorful, hearty meal. It is usually served with boiled cassava or yucca, as well as pickled red onion rings.
This is one Mexican staple that you’ll not only find in every Spanish-speaking nation but also around the world. The ingredients and varieties are truly endless. Traditional versions often feature corn tortillas and grilled meats such as beef or pork, though you’ll also find plenty of seafood and vegetable options as well.
Dulce de Leche
Another popular dessert throughout Latin America is dulce de leche. It is made by slowly heating condensed milk and may be served on its own or poured over other desserts such as cake.
Served from street carts and market stalls, antichuchos are inexpensive skewers of meat that were originally developed in the Andes Mountains. The meat is often marinated in vinegar and topped with spices like cumin, garlic, and pepper.
Known around the world as a sweet, easy to eat as a snack, churros are fried pieces of dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The Latin American version is often larger and thicker and is filled with a sweet filling, such as dulce de leche or fruit jams.