There is a notable Chinese influence on Cubans. For evidence, there is the fact that Cubans eat a lot of white rice. Perhaps it’s just hearsay, that the Chinese were demanding such high amounts of plain white rice that it became a common item in the markets of Havana. There is a China town in Cuba, and there are many “Chino-Cubanos” (Chinese Cubans) living in Miami today. Go to any local take out in Miami and you can hear the heavy accents speaking Spanish as they take orders over the phone or at the tables. Having married into this interesting culture, in 2009 I made it a New Year’s resolution to learn to cook Chinese entres. Using online recipes, I managed to learn the art of shrimp lo-mein, and special fried rice. Both were and continue to be a big hit; I highly recommend you give this rice recipe a try.
As promised, below is a recipe that I have adapted over the years into a family favorite. Though a bit laborious, it’s always a great choice when entertaining my big Cuban family or friends. Leftovers are always great too! I will provide brand names when I have a preference, but feel free to use your favorite brands.
4 cups Mahatma long grain rice
1 chicken breast**
1/2 lb cooked medium (20/21 count) shrimp
1 slice cooked ham
1/4 chopped white onion
4 oz Country Crock vegetable spread (about 2-3 tablespoons)
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon sesame seed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 green onion (chive)
8 oz bag of bean sprouts
Kikoman Soy sauce “to taste” usually about 6 tablespoons total.
**Make sure to always keep raw chicken away from other foods and cook separate.
First cook the white rice without any salt and just a teaspoon of olive oil to keep from sticking. Let the rice cool afterward, and hopefully have enough time to leave in the fridge. A couple of hours will do, but left overnight is better (dryer is better).
When ready to begin, mix the chopped onion, ginger, garlic and black pepper in a bowl. Cut the ham into squares and place in a separate bowl with the cooked shrimp (peeled). Wash your chicken breast and keep separate.
Place a wok on low heat, and a sauce pan on medium heat. You will be using both at the same time.
Let the vegetable spread melt in the wok. Once liquid, add the rice all at once and mix well to cover the rice with the butter. Let sit (wok). From this point on, the less often you stir the better the end result.
Cut the chicken breast into slices and stir fry it with just a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Let it cook all the way through. Once it’s turning golden, throw in the ham and shrimp over it. Add another tablespoon of soy sauce to this mix and stir. Just when the shrimp starts to want to shrink, toss the ham chicken and shrimp into the wok with the rice. Stir just to blend and let sit.
Saute the onion mix bowl in the sauce pan using only 1 teaspoon of olive oil until the garlic starts to turn. Once its turning golden, toss this into the wok as well. Stir to blend in the flavors. Add the sesame oil, sesame seed, and about 4 tablespoons of soysauce at this point. You can taste as you add to make sure you don’t overdo the soy sauce.
Using the same sauce pan, scramble the 2 eggs and toss the cooked eggs into the wok. Stir to blend everything in the wok.
Now bring the wok to high heat. Stir about every 3 minutes and let the wok do the work. After a while, you will see that when you stir the rice, it is getting crisp (fried). Once its done to your liking, throw in the bean sprouts. Mix in well and let them work into the heat for about 2 minutes. Throw the chopped green onions (chives) fresh over the plates as your serve (or over the rice at the end if guests will serve themselves.)