This Instructable will teach you how to make two traditional Puerto Rican foods: a side called Arañitas (Spanish for "little spiders") and pollo frito ("fried chicken"). Anyone can make these simple dishes; if you can make ramen, then you can make these. It may help if you have experience cooking chicken or frying food, though it is not at all necessary.
The history of Arañitas and Pollo Frito is quite the mystery. Many believe that Arañitas is a Spanish variation on a dish introduced to Puerto Rico by African immigrants. Pollo Frito seems to be the Spanish take on chicken, similar in ways to the many other variations found throughout the world.
Arañitas is a traditional variation of the salty side: Puerto Rico's "French Fry." They can be served with meat, rice, or as simple snacks. Pollo frito is a common dish found at family gatherings or community events served as a main dish. Pairing these two together gives you a complete meal with a taste very different from American cuisine, and even from typical "Mexican food" eaten in America.
This dish will take 15 minutes of prep time, and 20 minutes of cooking, giving you a complete meal in just over half an hour.
When you finish cooking, you will enjoy a wonderful traditional dish from the island of Puerto Rico!
Step 1: Gather Ingredients & Tools
• 6 cups Vegetable Oil
• Adobo Seasoning (You may substitute Garlic Powder, Salt, and Pepper. Mix to taste)
• 9 Garlic Cloves
• 2-3 Medium Jalapeños
• 4 Chicken Breasts
• Pinch of Salt
• Pinch of Pepper
• 3 Plantains
• Measuring cup
Step 2: Cut Plantain Ends
Cut the ends off the plantain similar to how you would remove the ends of a banana. Make the cuts apx. 1 to 1.5 in from each end. Cut completely through the plantain and discard the ends.
Step 3: Slice the Back of the Plantain
While holding the plantain still, cut along the back of the plantain. It is okay if you end up cutting the plantain fruit slightly.
Step 4: Remove Plantain From Skin
Remove the plantain from its peel. You can easily peel the slit on the plantain open and pull the plantain out of the peel. Discard the plantain peel.
Step 5: Grate Plantain
Move the plantain across the grater. It is best if you use a section on your grater will large, course holes.
It may be easier to cut each plantain in half to shorten the length.
Caution: When the plantain gets small or grating brings your fingers too close to the sharp edges, discard the plantain to avoid injury.
Step 6: Separate Plantain Gratings
Separate the gratings from each plantain into 3 or 4 piles. These will be the individual arañitas.
Optional: You can mix minced garlic into the plantain gratings at this point if you wish.
Step 7: Heat Oil on Stove
1. Put the 6 cups of oil into the frying pan.
2. Turn the stove onto medium.
3. Heat the oil until you begin to see bubbles rising the middle of the pan.
Warning: Be careful as you heat the oil. Hot oil may splash and burn skin.
Step 8: Fry the Plantain Gratings
Use the spatula to place the uncooked arañitas into the oil. The arañitas will begin to brown after about 2-3 minutes.
Warning: When you first place the arañita into the oil the oil will begin to bubble more violently (see photo). Be careful not to let is splash on you.
Step 9: Flip the Aranitas
When the arañitas begin to brown, flip them over. You will then continue cooking them until they harden. You will know they are done when you prod them with the spatula and they do not give under moderate pressure. This should take about 2-3 additional minutes.
Step 10: Remove From Oil
Remove the plantains from the oil and place them on a plate covered with paper towel. This will soak excess oil from the plantains. You can pat them with paper towels as well, if you wish.
Step 11: Season
Sprinkle Adobo Seasoning onto the plantains.
Note: If you do not have Adobo, you can use Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder.
Step 12: Set Aranitas Aside
Allow the arañitas to sit and continue to dry.
Step 13: Separate Garlic Cloves
Separate 8-9 cloves from the garlic bulb and peel the skin off the cloves (note that the cloves in the pictures still have their skin).
Step 14: Mince the Garlic
You can use a food processor to mince the garlic, if you have one available. Otherwise, follow these steps:
1. Slice each clove into fine strips along its length.
2. Turn the cloves and make slices again.
3. Continue to chop the garlic until it is in fine pieces.
The bowl in the picture is approximately 2.5 inches across, so the contents are not as large as they appear.
Note: Garlic juices can bond to your skin and make fingers smell like garlic for days. You may want to use gloves if you complete this step without a food processor.
Step 15: Chop the Jalapenos
Chop the jalapeños into course pieces.
Note: You can slice a jalapeño length-wise and remove the seeds from it first if you do not care for spicy foods.
Caution: Pepper juices can irritate your skin or eyes. As the juices can bond to your skin, you may want to use gloves while chopping. Otherwise, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling the jalapeños.
Step 16: Season Chicken With Adobo
Shake Adobo seasoning onto the chicken to lightly cover it.
Note: If you do not have Adobo, just use Salt and Pepper.
Step 17: Mix Jalapeno, Garlic, and Chicken
Mix the minced garlic and chopped jalapeños into the seasoned chicken.
Optional: Let this marinate for half an hour.
Step 18: Fry the Chicken
1. Reheat the oil from the arañitas on medium setting.
2. Place the chicken breasts into the heated oil.
Note: You can use 6 fresh cups of oil if you wish.
Step 19: Flip the Chicken
After about 10 minutes, flip the chicken over with the spatula. At this point, the chicken should appear white rather than pink (see image).
After about 5 additional minutes the chicken will be done. It will appear white to lightly brown. Cut into the center of one of the breasts (you may remove it from the oil to do this). As long as the center is white and not pink, the chicken is done.
Warning: When you flip the chicken, use extreme caution not to splash the hot oil. Flip the chicken slowly to reduce the risk, or use tongs for more control.
Step 20: Serve
Reheat the arañitas in the microwave for 15-20 seconds if needed. Serve the chicken with the arañitas as sides and garnish with lettuce or parsley if desired.
Note: Sprinkle chopped jalapeños onto the chicken if desired.
You have now completed a traditional Puerto Rican dish! You will find the chicken to have a slight kick of jalapeño and be incredibly easy to cut. The Arañitas will be crunchy and golden-brown. Some variations on the preparation include adding chopped onions to the chicken preparation. Also, you can reduce the amount of oil used for the chicken if you wish. This will result in healthier chicken, though possibly less juicy. Do not reduce the amount of oil for the arañitas, as they should float while they cook.
Enjoy your rich, juicy chicken with the crispy "Spiders!"