Chef Daisy Martinez first opened my eyes to the process of making Puerto Rican sofrito, which is a staple in Caribbean Latin cuisine. Basically the concept of is to act as a sautéed seasoning for any oil or fat which contributes to any base flavor in a recipe. Instead of sautéing each vegetable individually, sofrito is a combined mixture of garlic, onions, tomato and specific herbs, and peppers. All ingredients are broken down in a food processor to create one fantastic monster flavor.
While the ingredients of sofrito vary greatly from kitchen to kitchen, my recipe adheres to all of Daisy’s ingredients. Each time you make it the proportions can vary, so it almost never turn out the same every time. That’s completely okay! Finding the two key ingredients — culantro and ajicito dulce peppers — can be quite challenging. When you find both of these ingredients at the same time, seize the opportunity and make a large batch of sofrito. Simply store it in the freezer because this can be saved for quite some time and used in any recipe.
Ingredients for Puerto Rican sofrito
- 2 bunches of culantro
- 2 bunches of cilantro
- 1 large Spanish onion (usually smaller and more round than a typical yellow onion)
- 1 cup garlic cloves
- 2 cups ajicito dulce peppers
- 2 long hot Italian peppers
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 vine tomatoes
- Loosely chop cilantro and culantro, including stems.
- Remove stubs and cores from all peppers and tomatoes.
- Cut down all ingredients into large chunks, about the same size as the garlic cloves. This makes everything more food processor friendly to mix evenly.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to incorporate evenly before transferring to food processor. Process in batches until texture is uniform.
- Transfer sofrito to containers suited for freezer storage. Some people use ice trays, but I prefer to use take-out plastic containers.