Sofrito is the heart and soul of Puerto Rican cooking. Every single dish, whether it be yellow rice, beans, chicken soup or a hearty stew - everything begins with this magical ingredient. But what is it exactly?
Join Fine Dining Lovers as we travel to the Caribbean to discover the secrets behind Puerto Rican sofrito and its many uses.
What is Sofrito?
Most cultures have a handful of ingredients that define its cuisine. For the French, it is mirepoix, the classic blend of carrots, onions, and celery (the Italians also have a similar version they call soffritto).
Puerto Rican sofrito has its roots in Spanish cuisine. A typical Spanish sofrito contains a blend of onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes. Many versions of sofrito exist throughout Latin America, each country has adapted the recipe to include native herbs and peppers.
In Puerto Rico, sofrito is a unique blend of onions, garlic, cilantro, culantro (an herb native to the Caribbean), and sweet peppers known as ají dulce (they look like habanero peppers but are not spicy). Sofrito is used in virtually every Puerto Rican recipe and that's what makes it an essential part of the island's cuisine.
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Puerto Rican Sofrito: Ingredients
These are the ingredients to make 1 quart of sofrito, which should be stored in a jar with a lid. It will keep well in the refrigerator for three months. Most recipes call for one to two tablespoons of sofrito so, depending on how often you use it, this sofrito recipe can last for months.
2 white onions, chopped
2 heads of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups sweet red peppers, seeded and quartered
1 bunch cilantro (with stems)
1 bunch culantro (an herb native to the Caribbean)
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, optional
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you obtain a smooth puree. Salt to taste and pour into a quart-sized mason jar. Keep refrigerated.
Watch: How To Make Puerto Rican Sofrito
Cooking with Sofrito
Put your homemade sofrito to good use and whip up this classic Puerto Rican dish of arroz con gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas). Here is the recipe.