The sofrito is at the heart of Caribbean cuisine, making it the flavor base for a variety of dishes. Almost any savory recipe can be made with this technique. It is cheap, easy to make, and pure magic.
If you want to step up your cooking prowess a hundred nights, then this is your technique.
Exactly What Is Sofrito?
The term “sofrito” originates from Spain, where aromatics are fried to release flavor compounds.
As the Spanish colonized the Caribbean, islanders recreated sofrito with ingredients available to them.
Puerto Ricans refer to sofrito as recaito, after recao, a wild herb that grows wild throughout the island and lends the puree its distinctive bright green color.
Sofrito Is Made in What Way?
It is essentially a mix of aromatics like peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. It can be compared to a mirepoix or the holy trinity.
In fact, making it is as easy as getting out your blender or food processor. If you don’t have these tools, you can use elbow grease and mince the ingredients. Whatever method you choose, it will always work.
What Is In Sofrito?
There is a difference in the ingredient list for sofrito depending on the region: in Spain, tomatoes are included; in the Dominican Republic, vinegar is added; and in Puerto Rico, neither of these ingredients was used.
In traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, sofrito is made with sweet peppers known as ají dulce, garlic, onions, and, as I mentioned earlier, recao. Also called sawtooth coriander or Chinese parsley, this pungent herb is related to cilantro.
You can usually find ají dulce and recao at an Asian or Latino grocery store. You can also substitute green bell pepper and cilantro if these ingredients are not available.
Each family has its own version of sofrito, which varies from recipe to recipe. A few recipes call for annatto oil, salt pork, tomato sauce, and other herbs and spices. No matter what ingredients are used, sofrito is always the first thing to hit the pan, where it is lightly fried until the whole kitchen smells fantastic. (Is it just me who believes heaven will smell like amazing food cooking?)
No matter what your religious beliefs are, I’ve seen many islanders get choked up when they smell sofrito for the first time. Honestly, this sauce is potent.
What Is the Best Way to Store Sofrito?
Sofrito goes a long way, so you’ll always have leftovers when you make a batch. Put it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a month.
If you have leftovers, you can freeze them in an ice cube tray like my grandmother (Spanish for grandmother) does. Put the cubes in a freezer-safe container, and they will stay fresh for three months.
What Are the Uses of Sofrito?
Honestly, many savory recipes would benefit from a splash of sofrito. Of course, you must use it in Caribbean dishes like my Arroz con Pollo (Puerto Rican chicken and rice) recipe. But you can also use it in your favorite stews, soups, beans, and sauces.
Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe
Sofrito is the aromatic base for many Caribbean dishes. This savory ingredient is easy to make, budget-friendly, and can be used in almost every recipe you can think of.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Servings: 7 (¼ cup each)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 1 green bell pepper ($0.79)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro ($0.89)
- 6 cloves garlic ($0.48)
- Peel the onion and deseed bell pepper, then quarter them. Rinse the cilantro and chop the bunch roughly.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a smooth, thick puree forms.
- Use the sofrito in a recipe immediately, store in an air-tight container for up to a month in the fridge, or portion into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Serving: 0.25 cup ・ Calories: 14 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 3 g ・ Protein: 1 g ・ Fat: 0.1 g ・ Sodium: 2 mg ・ Fiber: 1 g
The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer.
Step-by-step Photos of How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito
Prepare the onion and bell pepper by cutting them into quarters. The cilantro should be rinsed and chopped. Using a food processor or blender, combine the onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and garlic.
Pulse until the ingredients become a smooth, thick puree. Adding a little olive oil can help the blades move along when cutting through ingredients.
Sofrito can be used right away, stored in the fridge for up to a month, or frozen as ice cubes. Put the cubes into a freezer-safe container and store for three months.