A Puerto Rican without sofrito is like a day without sunshine. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, but there’s no denying the moment of panic that strikes me whenever my sofrito stash is running low. Luckily, Puerto Rican sofrito is SO EASY to make, that 10 minutes of your time will yield you weeks, if not months, of flavor. Akin to the mirepoix of French cookery, sofrito is the basis for many dishes in various Caribbean cultures, including stews, soups, rice and bean dishes. Essentially, we use it for anything that’s cooked in some sort of liquid. There’s some debate about what is and isn’t part of sofrito, and that answer will change depending on what country you’re referring to. In Puerto Rico, we call it “recaito”. The pungent herb recao (AKA culantro) and ajíes dulces (sweet chili peppers) are the contributing flavor profiles to recaito. These ingredients can usually be found in Asian or Latin supermarkets. If you can’t find these 2 ingredients, substitute with cilantro and cubanelle peppers, respectively.
Dominican sofrito, called sazón in that country, uses vinegar for a flavor punch and annatto for color. Cuban sofrito employs tomatoes and red bell peppers to sweeten it up and add color, as well as diced ham. So just to be clear, we’re making recaito!
Makes 1 quart
1 green bell pepper
1/2 lb ajíes dulces, stemmed and deseeded
1 bunch recao (culantro)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
10 large garlic cloves, peeled
Wash and prepare all the ingredients for the food processor (or blender). For the peppers, this means de-stemming and de-seeding them. Chop the onion into chunks, and peel the garlic cloves.
Add everything into the food processor (or blender). If using a blender, you may have to add water to get the veggies to blend. You can strain the liquid after blending so that the sofrito doesn’t end up with too much liquid.
Blend until everything is finely pureed.
Use a funnel to pour the mixture into a storage container. If storing long term, pour the sofrito into ice cube trays and freeze the sofrito. Then just pull out a cube whenever you need it for a recipe.
Use a few tablespoons in your next rice, beans, stew or soup recipe!
Recipes that use Puerto Rican sofrito:
- Carne Guisada (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
- Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Beans)
- Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken & Rice)
- Guilt Free Puerto Rican Corned Beef (Carne Bif)
- Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Stewed Beans)
- Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)
Puerto Rican Sofrito
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 lb ajies dulces seeded
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 10 garlic cloves peeled
- 1 bunch recao culantro
Wash and chopped all the ingredients into large chunks.
Puree everything in a food processor or blender. (Use water for the blender if needed).
Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 10 days, or freeze in an ice cube tray or small cups.