Have you ever had Puerto Rican food and felt too intimidated to try it at home? Look no further, below is the Puerto Rican Sofrito recipe that is the base to most Puerto Rican cuisine. Super easy to make and the perfect introduction to hopefully cooking more Puerto Rican food at home or even better, take a trip to Puerto Rico and have a better understanding of what makes our food so great.
Puerto Rican Sofrito
Have you ever wondered where Puerto Rican dishes get their bold flavor from? Learn how to make this easy Puerto Rican sofrito recipe below!
Can I just share with you how much I love my job. Not only do I get to be in the kitchen and learn my family’s recipes, but through research for these blog posts, I also get to learn a bit of food history that I get to pass on to you. I have always loved to share information with others and now I get to do that through food. Amazing!
Growing up, I would see my mom pull out this mixture from the freezer whenever she would cook. I remember how pungent the smell was, but the food that was made with it was always delicious. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized this was a cultural thing and that not every family had sofrito ready and sitting in their freezer. Ha!
A bit of history:
To summarize, the term sofrito has been around since about 1324, with origins from Spanish cuisine. Since there are Spanish influences in Caribbean, Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine, sofrito over the years has then taken on varieties of those places into what we are familiar with today. The definition of the term sofrito is a sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs within Latin cuisine. This definition made sense to me because you normally cook with ingredients that are local to you, people have done this since the very beginning and so based on that, sofrito is different based on where you live whether it’s the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba or even Mexico has a version. Even within my own culture, each family has their own way of making sofrito based on where we live. The sofrito my Godmother in Florida makes, tastes slightly different than my mom’s in Indiana. That has to do with not being able to get the same fresh ingredients here in Indiana and there still not being a huge Latin culture here compared to Florida. The premise is still the same, fresh ingredients turned into a sauce or mixture that is used as a base for rice, soups, stews and marinades.
Both my mom and godmother were born in Puerto Rico and can I just say we had so much fun in the kitchen. It was so nice to hear stories of each of them growing up there as we all reminisced about our favorite dishes. I am glad they share their recipes with me, it is a memory I will take with me forever.
A quick word on Substitutions:
Culantro is the traditional herb used in this recipe however, they are extremely hard to find in the U.S. It is very similar to cilantro in taste but one bunch of culantro is equal to up to 10 times the flavor of regular cilantro. If you do come across this herb, then just use one bunch of culantro in replacement of the 3 to 4 bunches of cilantro listed above. If you are those few that cannot have cilantro due to a soapy taste you get, try Thai basil or Italian parsley, please note though this will drastically change the flavor or your dish, but you have options.
The aji dulces are also extremely hard to find in the U.S. (Florida has them!) they are a sweet pepper from Puerto Rico, if you can’t find them then replace them with Bell peppers or in a pinch I’ve been able to use sweet banana peppers.
It is super easy to make and you can make it in bulk and store in your freezer for later use. All ingredients go into a food processor and pulsed until it almost looks like salsa.
Add olive oil, green bell peppers, red onion, cilantro (culantro/recao, if you can find it), lime juice, garlic, cachucha peppers (shown above) or more bell peppers or, even in a pinch I’ve used sweet banana peppers, salt and pepper.
Pulse until you have the desired consistency and store. I know fresh garlic is super strong, but I always have to taste a teaspoon of it. It makes me feel so alive and it’s so fresh! I will warn you though, if you do not like spicy things then I highly recommend to NOT taste it fresh, only after you’ve cooked it, when the garlic taste becomes less pungent. Then if you are cooking, use what you need and freeze the rest. I normally put them in freezer bags, but you can also put them into ice cube trays and then freezer bags or in Tupperware like the picture below.
Now your ready to start cooking Puerto Rican cuisine!