Sofrito is the base for a lot of Puerto Rican dishes. Namely, “guisos” or Puerto Rican style stews. Aside from being delicious, homemade sofrito is super special to me, since it is part of my life’s, my family’s aromas. I am transported back to my house in the mountains of Guayama every time I smell it.
To me, sofrito has always been one thing. However, since I moved to the US, I learned that some people add tomatoes, giving it a reddish color and call that sofrito. Wheareas when they add culantro (recao) they call it “recaito”. I (and most Puerto Ricans too) only know as sofrito what people here call “recaito”. So, from here on out in this post, sofrito will be the delicious, aromatic green mixture of veggies.
Having said that, there are several ways to make homemade sofrito. The way I make it is very simple and I learned it from my grandmothers. One of the ingredients that does give it a very good flavor are “ajíes” or sweet peppers. As far as I know, this veggie is not really grown in the US for wholesale. It is every in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, but it has been near impossible for me to find them here. For this recipe, I would use about ¼ – ½ lbs seeded sweet peppers, if I could get a hold of them. I will omit them in this post, but please if you do find them, use them! It gives the sofrito that oomph that makes it great. Still, it comes out tasty without them.
Another one of the main ingredients is culantro (recao). This is not a commonly used herb here in the US. In fact, a lot of people I know have never heard of it. I typically find it in a latin supermarket called Fiesta here in Austin, TX. If you live in the US and have a latin supermarket close by, look for it there.
Homemade Sofrito – Making it
Cut up one onion and two green peppers into chunks and add them to a blender. Also, add a full head of garlic, peeled to the blender. Lastly, add a package of culantro (about one cup), washed, to the blender. Blend it all together, stopping to scrape the sides of the blender every so often, until everything is well blended. You might be tempted to add oil or water to the mix at first, but the onion will release a lot of liquid the longer it is blended. Store the homemade sofrito in a large mason jar, or any other glass container.