We compiled the ultimate list of Latin American dishes that will leave you and your guests asking for "mas". Whether you are planning a dinner for two or throwing a large party with friends and family these popular South American plates will be sure to spice up your event.
Ceviche-This is Peru's national dish and its most delicious. Fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with aji or chili peppers. Its usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn or avocado.
Party Tip: Serve during the summer months as an appetizer. Serve on top of a fried plantain chip to eat as a tapa.
Fried Plantain- Common to Honduras, Panama, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico this simple to make dish consist in cutting plantains in slices, frying them until they are yellow and smashing them between to plates and frying them again. Plantains are also stuffed with chicken, shrimp, shredded pork or beef and served as appetizers.
Party Tip: Have fun with your toppings, try orange chicken, teriyaki beef, sautéed mushrooms and chorizo with wine. Remember to fry the plantains and serve quickly. (no one likes cold gummy plantains)
Arroz con Pollo- Similar to paella this savory dish mixes rice, chicken, peas, peppers and spices. Some say the secret lies in adding beer and saffron. Since it originates from Spain, many Latin American countries have their own version of the dish, my favorites are from Peru & Puerto Rico.
Party Tip: Prepare a large pot and place outside where guests can see the preparation. You can have family and friends help out with the ingredients. This is a popular preparation style done with paellas and with arroz con pollo in the country side.
Arepa- Another culinary classic, this time from Colombia and Venezuela. This flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour is eaten daily in those countries and can be served with various accompaniments such as cheese (cuajada), avocado, or split and used to make sandwiches.
Party Tip: Have a self serve arepa station with toppings such as shredded beef, shrimp, chicken, cold cuts, cheeses, avocado, & lettuce.
Empanada or Empanadilla - Can you say turnovers from heaven? If you have never tried one you are missing out big time. These pastries are stuffed with pretty much anything then fried or baked and served with dipping sauces. They can be sweet or savory and their stuffing can be meat, cheese, chocolate, vegetables or fruits.
Party Tip: They work wonderfully for cocktail parties, guests like to eat something hearty after having drinks. Remember to prepare and serve quickly.
Croqueta- This fried food roll is very popular all over Latin America and its normally eaten for breakfast with a great cup of coffee. The most popular are made with ham or cod fish.
Tostada- Mexico has some great dishes but tostadas is one of those hidden gems that doesn't get much coverage but should. Fried flour tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, shredded chicken and avocado. Yum!
Party Tip: Make bite size tostadas and serve as appetizers.
Asado- Native to Agentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay & Paraguay, the asado consists of grilling meats, embutidos, chicken and vegetables and serving with salad or potatoes.
Party Tip: Asados are great for large groups of people and since meat is pricey I recommend it for special occasions like milestone birthdays or family reunions. Asados are slow cooked and done over a grill so plan to be cooking for a couple of hours. If you want o go 100% authentic research the Argentinian grilling methods, perfect for a ranch fiesta.
Mole is the name given to rich sauces based on chili pepper. There are many types of mole: sweet, sour & spicy. The classic moles are mole poblano and mole negro that come from Mexico. Moles require over 20 ingredients and many hours of preparation. Some of its ingredients include chili peppers, achiote, guaje, cumin, cloves, anise, tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic sesame seeds, dried fruit, & hoja santa. I am looking forward to prepare more dishes with these wonderful sauces.
Party Tip: Shred chicken and on a small flour tortilla for an easy pick me up.
Sancocho- This is hands down my favourite childhood dish. My mother taught me how to make this dish and my husband says it's the best in town. This is a hardy stew made with meat, potatoes, cassava, corn, yautia, carrots, cilantro, recao, sofrito & achiote.
Party Tip: Serve as entrée during winter months along with white rice, avocados and fried plantains.
Tamales- What else can we say about this steamed corn based masa stuffed with meats, cheeses and vegetables. This delicious dish is popular in Mexico and Central America. I also recommend pasteles, plaintain masa stuffed with meat.
Party Tip: Pour batter in cupcake tray to make mini easy to eat tamale cups.
Flan is an open pastry or sponge cake containing a sweet or savoury filling. A typical flan of this sort is round, with shortcrust pastry, usually coated with sweet syrup. It is similar to a custard tard or a South African melktert.
Party Tip: They sell flan in individual containers, no prepping required and way easier to clean up .
Churros con Chocolate- is a fried- dough pastry very popular in Spain & Mexico. They are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in chocolate of coffee.
Party Tips: Put churros in paper bags like French fries. Guests can pour chocolate syrup on top as they wish.
Rice Pudding- Popular to all South America this dessert will be sure to satisfy your sweeth tooth. Made with coconut milk, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cloves, ginger and rum soaked raisins.
Party Tip: Serve in colorful paper cups or mugs. Add cinnamon stick to resemble a straw, cute and delicious.
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