What Is Arroz Tapado?

A. Leverkuhn

Arroz tapado is a common dish in some Latin American countries; it is composed of rice together with other food items. Different versions of this dish are popular around the world in countries that speak Spanish. The name for this dish is composed of two Spanish words, arroz, which means rice and tapado, which means covered. Many forms of this dish will have some specific properties that relate to the word “covered.” In most forms of this dish, generic white rice is common, but other rice varieties can also be used in these sorts of cuisine.

Different varieties of rice can be used in arroz tapado.
Different varieties of rice can be used in arroz tapado.

One of the main versions of this dish is a Peruvian one. In the Peruvian version of arroz tapado, ground beef and other elements are mixed with rice. These are all compacted in a container, which is then opened. The contents are placed onto a plate, where they retain the shape of the original container.

Cilantro is often included in arroz tapado.
Cilantro is often included in arroz tapado.

Other elements added to the Peruvian arroz tapado dish include pieces of hard-boiled egg, as well as raisins and olives. Onions and other spices may be added. The green herb cilantro is a common addition. Garlic may also be added to this version of the dish. Cooks may add spices like salt and pepper, and paprika, the red essence of peppers that is an appealing, colorful garnish to many dishes.

An alternative Colombian version of arroz tapado involves cooking the rice in chicken stock and using pieces of chicken in the dish. Some other elements like garlic, onions, and hot peppers are often added to this type of dish as well. Here, the word tapado relates to the method by which the dish is cooked.

Although the words “arroz tapado” are related to the name of another Spanish delicacy called tapas, the two are not really connected. Tapas is a selection of small plates, where the actual food can vary quite a bit. For example, tapas plates can include cheeses, seafood, bread, prepared meat skewers, or nearly anything else on the Spanish menu, in small sizes. By contrast, arroz tapado is a dish in which rice is covered, then obtained and presented to the culinary audience. Some Spanish speakers note that the word “tapas” generally refers to the “lid” of the container, where the word itself can have various meanings in context.

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