Arroz tapado is a Peruvian recipe that’s present in many homes. I have had it at least a hundred times while living at my mom’s house and I love it. It’s a really popular Peruvian dish! You can have all the components ready and refrigerated and then assemble the arroz tapado, heat it up and flip it onto a plate. I love to have it with a fried banana and many people also enjoy it with a fried egg.
What is arroz tapado?
Arroz tapado is a dish that consists of 3 layers: one layer of cooked white rice, one layer of meat filling (layer of ground beef or chopped beef) and on top of that another layer of rice. At the centre you would also usually find a quarter of a hard-boiled egg and an olive per portion. In other versions, the egg and olives can be chopped up and mixed into the meat. I love this delicious arroz tapado with a juicy filling that just goes so well with the layers of rice. It’s a delicious recipe that you can easily and quickly make at home that can last for several days. If you haven’t added some Peruvian food to your household’s menu, this is a good place to start.
Ingredients for arroz tapado
The recipe for arroz tapado, being that it’s really homey, is prepared with very common ingredients. If you live outside of Perú the toughest ingredient to find might be the panca chilli paste (ají panca) but nowadays you get it in several stores and even on Amazon. The filling for this beef dish is really delicious with a deep savory flavor so definitely try to get all the ingredients your first time making it. Here are the ingredients you will need:
- Cooked rice: First, you need cooked rice and for that, I used my recipe on how to cook rice. It can be freshly made or you can use up rice from the day before. If you prefer, you can swap white rice for brown rice. In that recipe I make Peruvian rice which is basically rice with garlic.
- Red onion: Chopped onion is the first ingredient that we’re cooking in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil or olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Spices: I like to cook my spices along with the onion to get more flavour and aromas from them. In this case, I used dried oregano and paprika.
- Ají panca: A tablespoon of ají panca adds lots of flavour to the filling. If you want, you can also add a bit of ají amarillo or Peruvian yellow chilli that some recipes like to use as well.
- Garlic: Garlic is always welcome in a minced beef preparation and this is no exception. You can use garlic purée or use a fine zester to grate it.
- Beef: I prefer to use cut-up beef rather than ground beef but you can switch between them as it suits your household.
- Raisins: The arroz tapado filling usually has raisins in it. Many people don’t like them so you can skip that ingredient if you prefer.
- Hard-boiled eggs: For every portion of arroz tapado we include 1/4 of a hard boiled egg. Another option is to add chopped hard-cooked egg to the mixture of meat.
- Olives: We add an olive per portion of arroz tapado. In Perú we love purple olives / Alfonso olives. However, you can use black olives as well.
- Salt and black pepper: These will also help us season or arroz tapado filling.
- Other ingredients: There are many variations of this recipe and you can add or remove ingredients depending on what you have at hand. Other things you can add include green peas, tomato paste, red bell pepper, chopped parsley or even swap the beef for ground turkey.
How to assemble an arroz tapado
Once you have the rice ready and the filling ready, it’s time to assemble the arroz tapado. You need a small bowl, the size of a portion. In there, you will add cooked rice and press it down. On top of that, you will add about an inch of meat mixture and press it down as well along with 1/4 hard-boiled egg and an olive. On top of that goes more cooked rice that also gets pressed into place, all the way to the top of the bowl. Flip this onto a dish and you will have this very attractive rice dish: arroz tapado.
To assemble the arroz tapado you have two options. The first is to get the elements ready ahead of time and have the rice and filling done separately and refrigerated. You can refrigerate both for up to 5 days. In that case, you will assemble the arroz tapado cold and flip it over the serving plate. Just like that with the bowl and everything you will microwave it to heat it up, keeping the moisture inside. The vapour created also helps the arroz tapado to unstick from the bowl. The second option is to have everything freshly cooked and hot. In that case, you just assemble the arroz tapado and flip it over a dish to serve.
To go with this arroz tapado you have several options depending on your preferences. I love a pan-fried banana but depending on the home you can get it with different sides.
- Pan-fried banana: I love to make mine by preheating a large frying pan, adding a bit of butter and adding the bananas in. I like to use regular bananas but you can swap that for ripe plantains as well.
- Fried egg: Many people enjoy arroz tapado with a fried egg on top. That’s lovely because the egg yolk runs into the rice making everything so much better
- Fries: I’ve never in my life rejected a portion of fries! It really does go well with this dish.
Arroz Tapado Recipe (Peruvian Beef and Rice Dish)
For the rice
- 1 tsp olive oil or another type of oil
- 1 garlic clove finely grated chopped or ground (optional but highly recommended)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1¼ cup water
For the beef filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic puréed, minced or finely grated
- 2 tbsp ají panca paste
- 500 g lean meat cut in 5mm cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 50 g blonde raisins
For the assembly
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 6 olives purple/Alfonso olives or black olives
For the pan-fried bananas
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 bananas or ripe plantains
For the rice
- Preheat a small pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and stir nutil the garlic starts to become golden. Don’t let the garlic burn.
- Add the rice and stir constantly for one minute. This helps the grains stay apart once they are cooked instead of sticky.
- Add the water still on medium heat and let it break into a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and place the lid on the pot.
- After 15 minutes, use a fork to move the rice on a spot and check that there’s no water left at the base of the pot. If there’s still water there, let it cook for a few more minutes. If there’s no more water, use a fork to mix and fluff up the rice and let it dry out over medium heat an extra minute without the lid on.
For the meat filling
- In a large pan, add the oil and cook the onion along with the paprika and oregano over medium heat until the onion has softened and starts to smell sweet, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ají panca paste and stir for one minute.
- Add the beef, salt and pepper and stir. Lower the heat and cook the beef on low heat for 5 minutes. It should look juicy. Taste it and correct the level of salt if needed. Add the raisins and stir.
For the assembly
- In personal bowls, form a layer of rice at the base and flatten it using the back of a spoon.
- Add a layer of beef on top of the rice and flatten it. Add 1/4 hard-boiled egg and an olive per portion.
- Cover the beef with more rice and flatten it as well.
- Cover the bowl with a serving dish and flip it. You can heat it like this in the microwave if it's cold. Remove the bowl.
For the pan-fried banana
- Cut the banana in half lengthwise and then peel it.
- Preheat a pan to medium heat and add the butter.
- Add the banana halves and cook them on both sides until they're golden. Serve with the arroz tapado.