Tripleta Is The Hearty Puerto Rican Sandwich That Requires 3 Kinds Of Meat

A popular tourist destination, Puerto Rico is known for its paradisiacal Caribbean beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a food scene that fuses African, European, and Latin American ingredients. The tripleta is a tasty product of Puerto Rican culture, born from a combination of cocina criolla and a nightlife hangover cure.

Meaning triple in English, the tripleta lives up to its name, featuring three different kinds of meat: slow-cooked pork, cube steak, and cold-cut ham. Tripleta sandwiches incorporate these three types of meat into a soft sandwich roll with cheese, veggies, crunchy potato sticks, and mayo-kechu, a Puerto Rican term for special sauce.

These over-the-top triple-meat sandwiches are a famous Puerto Rican street food, sold after hours to soak up a night of drinking and dancing, or at casual Puerto Rican restaurants for a splittable lunch.  Slow-cooked pork shoulder, or pernil, is a classic Latin American and Caribbean dish that uses a complex marinade of sofrito, adobo, oregano, and Caribbean sazón seasoning blend to create the juiciest, zestiest pulled-pork filling. Cube steak is ultra-tenderized seasoned and marinated beef.

The pernil and cube steak along with thin slices of lunch-meat ham provide heartiness, moisture, and depth of flavor that speak for themselves. The addition of white cheese, like gouda, muenster, mozzarella, or Swiss, provides a creamy glue that keeps the meat and veggies in place.

Tripleta variations and comparison with the Cuban sandwich

As a Caribbean sandwich tradition, the tripleta shares similarities with the Cuban sandwich. Both are usually pressed or toasted with melted cheese and two different types of savory pork. However, the tripleta diverges drastically from the Cuban, first by adding a third portion of meat.

Tripleta sandwiches are massive, needing a two-handed approach, with many more mix-ins than Cubans. While pickles are the only garnish on a Cuban, tripletas often come with lettuce, shredded cabbage, onions, tomatoes, and fried potato strings. Lastly, a sweet, tangy, and creamy blend of ketchup and mayo is the typical condiment for a tripleta, whereas mustard is the standard for a Cuban sandwich.

Furthermore, tripletas come in countless varieties, from different bread types to changing the trifecta of meats. You can get a tripleta on a hoagie roll, French bread, or soft, slightly sweet panini-style Cuban bread. Chicken, longaniza, Italian sausage, salami, or prosciutto are all acceptable substitutes for one or more of the traditional tripleta meat varieties. Some sandwiches replace potato strings with plantain chips for more Puerto Rican authenticity.