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Sofrito is an aromatic mix of herbs and spices that is the base for cooking countless Puerto Rican dishes.

Ingredients:

Olive Oil

8 leafy stems of Culantro, chopped (culantro is also known is cilantro; it is a flat leaf-type chinese parsley available in Oriental or Indian markets).

1 medium Green Bell Pepper, chopped (green bell peppers are also called pimentos or pimientos, depending on what part of the globe one hails from).

1 clove Garlic, crushed

1 medium Onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 pound Aji Dulce (small, sweet chili peppers found in most bodegas or Oriental stores and sold loose by the handful or in packets of 1/2 or 1/4 pound. A 1/4 pound packet contains about 28 peppers). They should be sliced in half with inner seeds removed.

6 whole leaves Recao, chopped (recao is a small, green stemmed herb also found in bodegas and Oriental markets).

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until it has a smooth, sauce-like consistency, adding one tablespoon of olive oil while pureeing. This will yield about 1 1/3 cups of Sofrito.

How do you use it?

Simple. You saute, in a pan or skillet, one or two tablespoons of Sofrito, in a tablespoon of olive oil. The Sofrito is cooked for a minute or so, ensuring the blending of its diverse flavors. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste and cook a minute or two longer. This is your Sofrito base for whatever dish you may be making, be it simple or complex. Some folks prefer using tomato sauce instead of tomato paste. They claim it gives better flavor.

Some friends came up with a very useful idea for storing Sofrito so that it’s ready to use at all times. They freeze it in ice trays. A regular size ice cube is equal to approximately two tablespoons of sofrito. You simply plop a cube of sofrito into the skillet or stew pot. To some, it’s much easier than scooping out two or three tablespoons of the stuff from a can in the freezer compartment.

Recipe from Oswald Rivera’s, “Puerto Rican Cuisine in America: Nuyorican and Bodega Recipes”

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