Food File: Tripleta From Puerto Rico
This is a guest post by the lovely Ruth Rieckehoff, who blogs at Tanama Tales.
Puerto Rico is famous for its wide offering of street food. In many beach shacks (chinchorros), rural stands or colonial grand houses, you can find local delicacies such as alcapurrias, bacalaitos, piononos, empanadillas and sorrulitos. You may not recognize the items I have listed but believe me, they are good, really good in all of their deep fried-greasy glory.
But I am not here to discuss those (maybe) unpronounceable artery-clogging (delicious) bombs. I want to introduce you to the street food I miss more. The item I want to devour once the plane touches the runway. The pile of food I daydream about at work (and my husband makes fun of me because of that fact). Ok. No more talking about my desires. I want to introduce you to the tripleta.
What exactly is a tripleta? Basically, it is a sandwich. Wait, wait, wait. Don’t judge this dish because of its basic description. I assure you this is one on the meanest sandwiches you can taste.
Let me explain in detail. Tripleta is derived from the word triple. It is called like this because it consists of three types of meats.
Think marinated and grilled cube steak (the cut used for country fried steak), ham and pork (lechon). Put all that inside a loaf of fresh, soft bread and top it with swiss cheese, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, onions and potato sticks. You can eat it like that or you can decide to grill the bread once the sandwich is assembled. Sounds magnific, right? Yummm.
The preparation of the dish may sound simple. However, the flavors just burst in your mouth. The secret to make a good tripleta is in the meat marinade. The cube steak, called bistec, is marinated with garlic, onions and lemon juice. The pork meat comes from a lechon asado (pig roasted over a flame). The ham can have a smoky flavor which adds another dimension. When all these ingredients are mixed in the bread, each of the meats retain their consistency and flavor. It is like you are tasting the best of Puerto Rican flavors in one bite.
The sandwich ends up being huge. One order can feed two people. Well, this is just a warning. I don’t know how you can share soemthing so good (wink wink).
Chicken can be substituted for the pork.
You can also find dupletas in the street. These are sandwiches with two types of meats and somewhat smaller.
Last time I visited Puerto Rico, my brother took me to this neighborhood shack (at 1 a.m., five hours after I arrived to the island) famous for its tripletas. We ordered the regular tripletas plus one that came with a hamburger patty drenched in BBQ sauce. Wow, that was good.
Where to find it
The best way to find a tripleta joint is by asking locals. Puerto Ricans are really friendly and they are going to be more than happy to point you to a great place. If you are visiting San Juan for a short time (like on a cruise ship), don’t worry, there are many tripleta stands around the old and new cities (remember, just ask).
It is possible to find the dish cities heavily populated by Puerto Ricans. Your best bets are New York City and Orlando, Florida.
I haven’t included a recipe in here because the description I gave is pretty self-explanatory. Let me add some information about the type of bread to use. The tripletas I have tasted are made with a type of bread called pan sobao. This is a really soft, almost sweet type of bread baked in the island. You can use any type of soft bread for the recipe. French bread will also do the trick.
Author’s Bio: Ruth Rieckehoff, is the master storyteller at Tanama Tales, a blog for outstanding people wanting to share the beauty of life one story at a time. In terms of food, she loves to travel the world looking for tasty morsels to devour in the smallest amount of time. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
3 years ago