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How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito
My Homemade Sofrito - Wish you could smell the goodness!
If you're wondering how Puerto Rican food has such a unique flavor, it's all about the sofrito. Three generations before me were born in Puerto Rico; I am the first generation who was not born on that beautiful Caribbean island. Those who are born into the culture (Boricuas) know that no Puerto Rican recipe is complete without the starting base known as “sofrito.” It is an interesting word originating from the Italian word “sofrito,” a blend of seasonings, but the Italian version used some different ingredients. Italians immigrated to Puerto Rico during Spanish Colonial times.
What is sofrito?
The sofrito is used to season rice, beans, soups, chicken, beef, and pork – the staples of this cultural food. The recipe for sofrito is handed down by each generation – and not in writing; it is taught in the kitchen. And, in accordance with tradition, most Puerto Rican girls learn this at a young age with their mothers or grandmothers. I first learned how to make sofrito from my grandmother, since I spent so much of my youth with her; and one of the things we loved to do together was cook.
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 onion (white or yellow)
- 1/2 head garlic
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 cup water
- capers (optional), to personal taste
- Thoroughly, wash the peppers and cilantro.
- Peel off the skins from the onion and garlic.
- Remove stems and seed centers of peppers
- Chop peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic and place into a blender. Then add salt, pepper, oregano, and the optional capers.
- Add water into blender.
- Liquify the ingredients.
- Pour into storage containers or ice cube trays for easy use.
|Serving size: 1 cup|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 3 g||1%|
|Sugar 2 g|
|Protein 0 g|
|Sodium 3 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Tips on Using Sofrito
- Use approximately 2 or 3 cubes (if previously stored in ice cube trays) of the sofrito for rice or soup.
- If you're roasting a “pernil” (pork shoulder) or chicken, cut some small slits into the meat with a knife. Then generously pour the sofrito over the meat and work it in with your hands.
- Try frying the sofrito a little with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saute' pan until the aromas get going before using the sofrito in your recipe. The frying releases the oils in the ingredients (especially the garlic) so you will get a bolder flavor out of the sofrito.
- Refrigerate or freeze unused sofrito until next time!
Note: If you're using ice cube trays for storing and freezing sofrito, you'll want to keep those trays separate from the ones you use to make ice. The sofrito flavor is strong enough to stay in the tray after washing.
My 97-year old granny, "Fin."
Enjoy Puerto Rican Food
I grew up on arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), pasteles, yellow rice, pink and white beans, and “pernil” (roast pork). There is nothing like Puerto Rican food; and it is the “sofrito” that gives the dishes their fantastic aroma and taste. Trust me; this is so much better than the store-bought sofrito, which contains tomato sauce and lots of sodium. There’s no comparison to freshly-made sofrito.
If you’re looking to make great Puerto Rican food, there is a wonderful website called elboricua.com. There you can find tons of recipes, cultural information, and other fun Puerto Rican facts.
One thing is true, traditional Puerto Rican foods are more than just a great meal: “traditional foods remind us of who we are, what we like, and those we love.” Puerto Rican meals are always a celebration (elboricua.com).
My grandmother’s recipe became my mom’s recipe and, finally, mine. I have already shared it with my children as well; and now, I’m sharing this special recipe with all of you. Hope you enjoy this Latin flavor!
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By Liza Lugo, J.D.
(c) 2012, Revised 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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© 2012 Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD