Is Sofrito the Next Sriracha?

Brooke Newberry
(Photo: )

Sofrito is an aromatic combination of garlic and vegetables (and occasionally spices and herbs) lightly sautéed in oil or fat.  As the first thing to go into the pot, sofrito is like a proper base coat for many traditional universal recipes.  Across the global culinary grid, sofrito is hugely varied.  The word “sofrito” is of Spanish origin, meaning, “to fry.”  This base is used to start and season a range of dishes: think heavy stews, soups, beans, rice dishes, and occasionally meat.

A foundation for many Latin American, Mexican, and European dishes, sofrito is best broken down by region. In Haiti, Spain, France and Italy, sofrito is made with tomatoes, garlic, and onions in olive oil.  In Haiti, this sauce and cooking base is called “epis.”  In France, it is referred to as the darling mirepoix.  In the Caribbean and Latin America, sofrito is similarly made but with the addition of roasted peppers and herbs, giving the sauce a deeper, often spicier profile.  Sofrito in Puerto Rico traditionally calls for cilantro and sweet peppers (called “aji dulce”). Sofritos range in color and heat levels depending upon region.  

This base, sauce, and condiment can basically be eaten everywhere and with everything.  Look out Sriracha.

Below is Bronx native and Friend Of The Savory (FOTS?) Yolan’s recipe for a Sofrito.  This particular Sofrito is Puerto Rican in origin and was passed along to her (as all great recipes are) by a friend.  It’s spiked with the addition of fresh, aromatic cilantro and she recommends making a big batch and freezing leftovers. 

Try it in homemade soups, kick up rice and bean dishes, develop your stews, spoon on top of fried or scrambled eggs, season batters for frying, mix into an empanada stuffing, top veggies with it, or spoon atop steaks or pork chops.  Obviously, it’s a versatile and convenient recipe to make.

 

Yolan’s Sofrito Recipe:

  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 bunches of Recao**
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 4 heads of garlic
  • 3 onions 
  • Pinch of oregano leaves
  • 6 ají dulce (sometimes hard to find and may skip – just increase the bell peppers to 4 red and 2 green)
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil 

Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor.  This makes over 1 quart. 

**Recao (AKA thai parsley or culantro) is similar in taste to cilantro.

Make plenty, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then store in plastic bags (use double and squeeze out as much air as possible). This way there’ll be a stash in the freezer and you’ll only use what you need without any spoilage. Add fresh cilantro if you’re cooking from frozen.  Sofrito can be refrigerated up to a week but then must be frozen. 

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