Sofrito is a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly sauteed or braised in cooking oil for 15–30 minutes.
In Spanish cuisine, sofrito consists of garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, and is used as the base for many dishes. Similar preparations are used in the cuisines of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and also some Latin American countries. This is known as refogado in Portuguese-speaking nations, sofregit in Valencian cuisine, epis in Haitian cuisine and ginisá in Filipino cuisine.
Other meanings and versions of Sofrito
In Caribbean cuisine, sofrito is a seasoned lard and functions as a base for many traditional dishes, but prepared differently from the method described above. Lard (acquired from rendering pork fat) is strained, and annatto seeds are added to colour it yellow, and later strained out. To the coloured lard is added a ground mixture of cured ham, capsicum, chilli pepper, and onion; after this, mashed coriander leaves (cilantro) and oregano leaves are added. Garlic cloves are added in a tea ball, and the sauce is simmered for half an hour. The term also refers to a number of related sauces and seasonings in the Caribbean and Central and Latin America.
In Cuban cuisine, sofrito is prepared in a similar fashion, but the main components are onions, garlic, and green capsicums. It is a base for beans, stews, rices, and other dishes, including ropa vieja and picadillo. Other secondary components include, but are not limited to, tomato sauce, dry white wine, cumin, bay leaf and cilantro. Chorizo (sausage), tocino (salt pork) and ham are added for specific recipes, such as beans.
In Dominican Republic cuisine, sofrito is also called sazón, and is a liquid mixture containing vinegar, water and sometimes tomato juice. A sofrito or sazón is used for rice, stews, beans, and other dishes. A typical Dominican sofrito is made up of very finely chopped green, red and yellow bell peppers, red onions, garlic, ground annatto, ground oregano, apple cider vinegar,tomato paste, water, and cilantro. Ingredients vary and can change, for instance cubanelle peppers can substitute for capsicums (bell peppers), celery can replace onions and parsley or culantro can be used in place of coriander (cilantro).
In Greek cuisine, the term refers to a specific dish native to, and almost exclusively to be found on, the island of Corfu. Sofrito is a veal steak slow-cooked in a white wine, garlic and herb sauce and is usually served with rice.
In Puerto Rican cuisine, it is mostly used when cooking legumes, rice dishes, sauces, soups and stews. The two main ingredients that give Puerto Rican sofrito its characteristic flavour are recao (culantro) and ají dulce, but cubanelle peppers, roasted red pepper, brown onions, garlic, plum tomatoes and cilantro, are also added. Sofrito is traditionally cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, tocino (bacon), salted pork and cured ham. A mix of stuffed olives and capers called alcaparrado is usually added with spices such as bay leaf, cumin, sazón and adobo.
In Colombian cuisine, sofrito is called hogao or guiso, and it is made mostly of tomato, onion and coriander, and sometimes garlic; it is mostly used when cooking stews, meat and almost any kind of dishes.
In the Haitian cuisine of the Caribbean, epis is a combination sauce made from cooked peppers, garlic, and herbs, particularly green onions, thyme, and parsley. It is used as a basic condiment for rice and beans and is also used in stews and soups.
How to Make Sofrito
- Peel garlic and chop ingredients into sizes that are small enough to fit into a food processor or blender.
- Place the chopped ingredients into a food processor or blender. (If you find it necessary to add liquid, you may add water or olive oil a tablespoon at a time.)
- Blend together all ingredients well.
- For immediate use, store in a glass container. Plastic containers are not ideal because plastic will absorb the odour of garlic and onions.
Cooks Notes & Variations
For future use, freeze sofrito in ¼ - ½ cup portions for use at any time.
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