Sofrito– The secret to Spanish-Caribbean Cooking
Sofrito is the base for all Spanish and Caribbean cooking. It’s easy to make and it saves you a ton of time if you make a large batch, refrigerate it, and then use it when you need it. The recipes vary, and even I make it differently. For the most part, the base is always the same—garlic, onions, peppers, and cilantro. The kind of onions and peppers you use changes the flavor and the quantity you use affects it as well. Sometimes, I even add fresh tomatoes, but I do this cautiously. I’ll only add fresh tomatoes to my sofrito if I know I’m going to use it quickly. If not, my sofrito will go rancid in my fridge, and that’s never good.
I use my sofrito in pretty much everything—meats, beans, rice, and stews. And because I do this, I keep my base pretty simple, and adjust it with the dish I’m making—hence another reason I don’t put tomatoes in it. I don’t want all my food tasting the same. I also, don’t put much salt in my sofrito because I can use this season-all on grilled veggies, which doesn’t call for a lot of salt…. Moral of the story, is that once you make it you adjust it with whatever dish you use it on. Here’s a simple starter sofrito recipe. Enjoy!
- Garlic (lot’s of it! I also love garlic)
- Green Bell peppers
- Red Bell peppers
- Yellow Bell Peppers
- Ajicitos (Baby green peppers imported from the Dominican Republic. They’re not spicy, but at a quick glance you might mistake them for habanero peppers or even Jamaican peppers. Be careful!)
- White onions
- Red onions
- Celery (a little goes a long way)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Rough chop all your ingredients
- Put them in a food processor
- Blend them until it becomes a paste
- Add a touch of vinegar, some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, a bit of cumin, and oregano
- Blend again
- Now taste your sofrito marinade and add anything else you like (more garlic, or cilantro, etc…)
- Store in plastic container in the refrigerator for later use
As mentioned before, I use sofrito on many different dishes. If I’m making beans, I’ll scoop a bit and sauté it in oil. Then I’ll add tomato paste and the rest of my beans. If I’m using it to season some steaks, I might add some ginger soy sauce and lime. Treat the sofrito as a versatile season-all base and you won’t be disappointed! Always remember to sauté it as well to extract all the blended fresh flavors. Enjoy!