The base of all the best Puerto Rican dishes is sofrito, a brilliant blend of onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro and culantro. I can’t believe in the five years I’ve been writing this blog I haven’t posted it yet. I’ve searched high and low for the post but it ain’t there so here goes. Sofrito is what makes Puerto Rican food dance in your mouth. Simple and inexpensive to make, this is a Hispanic kitchen staple and should always be in your kitchen as well. Typically it’s prepared in large amounts then frozen in individual portions to be taken out of the freezer and used as needed. You will taste sofrito in almost all of our chicken, bean and rice dishes. Oh, and in soups and stews. It is loved and used in Latin American, Spanish, Italian and Portugese cooking. Every country, every town and every household has its own recipe. Some use tomatoes, some don’t. Some use bell peppers and cubanelles in addition to local sweet peppers. In Puerto Rico a small sweet pepper called “aji dulce” is always used but as I’m unable to find them here in Fort Lauderdale I just stick with the cubanelles.
Sofrito to Puerto Ricans is like oxygen to human beings. The minute it hits the hot oil the onions, garlic and herbs open up. There is always a head jerk reaction when a Hispanic smells this blend cooking! It will perfume your home like nothing else. As with most recipes this fragrant condiment is best homemade although it can be found jarred in most grocery stores in the international section. If you try this recipe I’m pretty sure you’ll be adding it to many of your dishes. Enjoy!
- 1 very large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 cubanelle peppers, seeded and white inner ribs trimmed off, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, tough stems cut off, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch culantro, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves, (optional)
- Add the onion to a food processor or blender and process until it becomes a thick, smooth paste.
- Add the garlic cloves and pulse until almost smooth.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and the cilantro and culantro are lovely green specks.
- Store in individual portions in the freezer. I portion the sofrito and store it in air tight baggies but ice-cube trays also work well after transferring the frozen cubes to an air tight freezer bag.