Travel through Dominican Republic food and dessert: Photo essay

Happy Cultural Tidbits Monday! Today we are Traveling through Dominican Republic food (and dessert!), continuing our series of delicious photo essays, introducing you to traditional dishes from all parts of the world.

Dominican Republic food, flag food plate

Dominican Republic food plate looking just like the nation’s flag – genius party idea! (Photo:Sharoliz B谩ez, my cousin!)

I lived in Dominican Republic for a month, when I was just 12 years old, with my aunt Lissett. The beautiful Puerto Rican married a Dominican cardiologist named Rafael (“Rafelito”) and moved to the neighboring island short after I started elementary school. I have fond memories with this particular pair of relatives because I would see them daily, even more than my always-hard-working mother, as they would take me and pick me up from school, cook me breakfast and dinner, and watch me study until mom picked me up after work in the evenings.

It was a sad day when they moved away, so mom thought it would be a great surprise to send me to Dominican Republic for a month after graduating from 6th grade (end of elementary school in Puerto Rico).It was a little more than mom wanting me to spend some quality time with my favorite aunt, though. Of course, she knew I’d been wanting to scratch my itchy travel feet! Ahh, mom does know best 馃檪

Mis tios, Dominican Republic

Mis t铆os are awesome! (Photo from a Halloween house party at an undisclosed location in the Domican Republic…bahaha)

Now that you know a little bit more about my connection to the Dominican Republic, with no more preambles, I introduce you to the Dominican Republic food! A succulent mix of Ta铆no, African, and Spanish cuisine. As its neighbor Puerto Rico, you may ask? My answer to that question would be “same same but different” 馃槈 隆Buen provecho!


Dominican Republic food, mangu

Mangu (bottom) topped off with onions and fried cheese loaves (Remo del Orbe, Flickr)

I don’t think any article talking about Dominican Republic food can start with any other dish. Mang煤 is as traditionally Dominican as the turquoise Caribbean waters that bathe La Espa帽ola‘s coasts. Very similar to Puerto Rican mofongo, it is a West African dish made of mashed, boiled plantains. The main difference is that mang煤 firmer than mofongo, in addition to having 3 special Dominican ingredients, typically dubbed as los 3 golpes. Meaning “the 3 hits” in Spanish, these are the traditional sides (acompa帽amientos) of the mang煤: Dominican salami, eggs, and fried cheese. Albeit a heavy dish, mang煤 is more-often-than-not eaten for breakfast — although it can be mang煤 time at any hour! 馃槈


Dominican Republic food, mondongo

Dominican Republic mondongo with plantains (Remo del Orbe, Flickr)

Another dish brought by the African, mondongo is beef stripe soup. It is also a traditional dish in Puerto Rico, although it is more commonly eaten (and a favorite!) in DR. The best thing about the dish, naturally, is the spices that go on the sauce. All-purpose seasoning, celery, tomato paste, spicy sweet peppers (aj铆es dulces), cilantro, and聽Saz贸n Goya with culantro y achiote might not seem like much…but they can be magical together! Oh, before you try to make mondongo yourself, though? Mrs Diana Cruz warns: “It can take anywhere between 15-20 minutes to cook it, so its all about observing and checking for tenderness. DO NOT OVER COOK OR YOU’LL HAVE SLIME FOR DINNER.” Noted!


Dominican Republic food, pastelon

Pastelon with extra plantains, please! (Joan Nova, Flickr)

Another quintessential Dominican Republic food, I personally dubbed it “plantain lasagna” when I first ate it. Others think it looks more like a Dominican Shepard’s聽pie. Regardless, this is how I can best describe pastel贸n聽to you: Think of the noodles/pasta being replaced with layer upon layer of sweet, ripe plantains instead. Then, stuff with adobo-seasoned ground beef or chicken, but without a chunky sauce. Finally, top it off with a mix of cheeses, cheddar preferred. Pop it in the oven and listo 馃榾聽Plantain pastel贸n, however, is only one of about 6 variations of the dish. Other kinds are made with yuca (cassava) in lieu of plantains. Want to try it out? Here’s a good Dominican pastel贸n recipe I found!


Dominican Republic food, bean sancocho

Bean sancocho with longaniza (sausage) and sliced plantains (Yensy Gonzalez, Flickr)

Sancocho is a very chunky, hearty soup made of a myriad of ingredients. It is similar to the asopao, but even thicker. Both are traditional dishes in several Latin American countries. However, the unique Dominican varieties are聽sancocho de siete carnes (7-meat sancocho) and聽sancocho de habichuelas (bean sancocho).


Dominican Republic food, plantain bollitos

Bollitos de pl谩tano, stuffed with melted cheese! (star5112, Flickr)

Ready for some snacks? The Dominican bollitos can be made of either plantain (bollitos de pl谩tano) or cassava (bollitos de yuca). As its Spanish name suggests, they are like little 聽 deep-fried dough balls filled with cheese — the “dough” being mashed plantains or cassava. Think of light-colored hush puppies with different ingredients and you get the idea. A delicious blend, of course!

Lengua picante

Dominican Republic food, spicy tongue

Sliced spicy tongue – allegedly, not the rubbery texture you expect! (joo0ey, Flickr)

Of course, I had to add the “odd dish” to this Dominican Republic food post! 馃槈 Direct translation is “spicy tongue” — and comes from a cow. Allegedly, it is not the rubbery flavor you expect! If cooked right, it should melt in your mouth.聽Today, I also learned that it can be聽a perfect treat for Rosh Hashanah.聽Nope, I haven’t tried it yet…

Habichuelas con dulce

Dominican Republic food, habichuelas con dulce dessert

Habichuelas con dulce dessert – for the whole family! (Sindy Santiago, Flickr)

As a Dominican would say, in order to close this post with broche de oro, here’s a sweet delicacy from the Caribbean nation. This dessert means “beans with candy” and it is just that: Red beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut milk, condensed milk, raisins, butter, sugar and salt (Katrina Taveras, Daily News NY). What I didn’t know before is that this is actually a soup! All you do is puree the boiled beans with salt, then add the coconut and condensed milk, along with the rest of the ingredients. Interesting! If you want to give this a try, here’s a recipe for you.

Have you tried Dominican Republic food and dessert? Comment below!

26 thoughts on “Travel through Dominican Republic food and dessert: Photo essay

    • like you Tom, I love me some heavy, hearty dishes. Hurry up and get to the Caribbean already! 馃槈

      What are you coming to America by the way? Isn’t it this summer?!

    • Hello Andrew! Is it really that different? I haven’t been to South America yet (odd, I know), but somehow I felt that Latin food was quite similar across the board–seems like that isn’t the case though!? Interesting! I’ll give you that tho–the beans dessert is quite rare, we don’t even have it in Puerto Rico, and we are one of the Dominican Republic’s closest neighbor! 馃槈

  1. Maria!!! You’re making my mouth water and I’m still full from dinner. It’s more than the food though, it’s mostly the memories it’s brought back from all the Dominican restaurants I’ve been to in NYC and the food I’ve eaten at friends’ homes. Great selection.

    • Pastel贸n is SO good! Perfect balance between savory and sweet — just mouthwatering. You would love it Sam, I’m sure!

      • hi my name is susan i just got arried to a domincan and i wam looking how to do some of the food we got married in santo domingo and when my husband comes to MASS we r going to get married here for my family and friends can be in the wedding but i would love to have some of his type of food at the wedding i do know how to make spanish food .

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