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Arroz Cantonés Costa Rica

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About Arroz Cantonés

Despite being a rather young country, Costa Rica offers a lot of gastronomical variety and one of its most famous popular dishes is arroz cantones.

While the Jamaican immigrants decisively formed the Caribbean food culture, the Chinese first settled on the pacific coast of Costa Rica and brought with them a traditional recipe for fried rice.

As happens with migration, arroz cantonés has long become a fusion dish and is by many regarded as typical Costa Rican food.

For those who cannot enjoy the famous street food along with a desfile during one of the many festivals, it is easy to recreate this simple but delicious classic at home.

Arroz cantonés is eaten a lunchtime delight of the metropolitan population in San José. It is most famously served as street food at Costa Rica’s many festivals and events. 

Cantonese Rice – Origin

Arroz cantonés is just another example of the beautiful fusion of different cultures that live together harmoniously in Costa Rica.

This time, it is the Chinese community that enriched tico culture with a dish that they brought from the Guangzhou region in the southeast of China, also known as Canton.

The Chinese first arrived in Puntarenas and have since spread across the country and form one of Costa Rica’s bigger immigrant communities. 

Similar Costa Rican Recipes

One thing that Chinese and Costa Rican cuisine have in common is rice as their main staple. Many of Costa Rica’s most popular and typical dishes such as arroz con pollo, arroz con camarones, or the famous gallo pinto use rice as their base.

Many times, you can order a Costa Rican casado with fried rice such as arroz cantonés in place of traditional Costa Rican white rice.

Another famous street food that Chinese immigrants brought to Costa Rica and that Ticos can’t get enough of is chop suey.

Costa Rican Arroz Cantones Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes instead of shredded
  • 1/2 cup cooked pork, cut into cubes instead of shredded
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots, cubed (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into very small sections
  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Lizano
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions

You’ll have to cook your rice, chicken, pork, carrots and green beans ahead of time.

In a large skillet (or wok), melt the margarine and add the onion, red pepper, garlic and scallions. Fry until the onion is translucent.

Add the meats and vegetables and heat until warm.

Begin to stir in the white rice, alternating 1.2 cup white rice with 1/8 cup soy sauce and then 1/8 cup Salsa Lizano. Stir everything until evenly mixed, adding salt to taste.

Top with cilantro (optional) and serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers for up to one week.

Notes

I use canned carrots and canned green beans for this and just slice them up so it’s less work. #realtalk You could use frozen too and just cook them a bit longer.

The secret to making delicious arroz cantonés is the rice. Some ticos swear that it is best kept in the fridge for two days before using.

What To Serve With Arroz Cantonés 

Arroz cantones is best accompanied by a fresh green salad, tomatoes, onion, and avocado.

In Costa Rican restaurants, you will often see it served with fries as well.

Substitutions

Some versions of this rice use sausage or hot dog in place of the pork.

Other versions substitute cilantro for the scallions.

Finally, you can use butter or olive oil instead of the margarine.

Coconut aminos are a great substitution for the soy sauce.

Variations

Some versions include scrambled egg, which you can definitely add.

For a healthier touch, you can make this with brown rice.

The point of arroz cantonés is that is a sort of a “catch all” dish. So you use bits and pieces of what is around and add some soy sauce and eat it. There’s really no wrong way- in my opinion- to make this dish!

FAQ

How do you say arroz cantonés in English?

The direct translation would be Cantonese Rice, although in English, we would commonly call it Chinese fried rice.

Where can I buy arroz cantonés?

In Costa Rica, you will find arroz cantones in markets, as street food during events, and in typical restaurants.

What is Salsa Lizano?

Salza Lizano is a sauce that Costa Ricans enjoy with any meal. It is a flavourful brown, fairly thin sauce made from vegetables and spices. Salsa Lizano is not spicy.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 3-4 servings

Arroz Cantonés Costa Rica

vat of costa rican chinese fried rice.

This Costa Rican arroz cantones is a popular street food and the only Chinese Fried rice that uses Salsa Lizano. A must try!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes instead of shredded
  • 1/2 cup cooked pork, cut into cubes instead of shredded
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots, cubed (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into very small sections
  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Lizano
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions

    1. You'll have to cook your rice, chicken, pork, carrots and green beans ahead of time.
    2. In a large skillet, melt the margarine and add the onion, red pepper, garlic and scallions. Fry until the onion is translucent.
    3. Add the meats and vegetables and heat until warm.
    4. Begin to stir in the white rice, alternating 1/2 cup white rice with 1/8 cup soy sauce and then 1/8 cup Salsa Lizano. Stir everything until evenly mixed, adding salt to taste.
    5. Top with cilantro (optional) and serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers for up to one week.

Notes

I use canned carrots and canned green beans for this and just slice them up so it's less work. #realtalk

The secret to making delicious arroz cantonés is the rice. Some ticos swear that it is best kept in the fridge for two days before using.

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About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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