A condiment, a sauce, a basis for beans, rice, and stews – sofrito is all this and more. There are as many recipes for sofrito as there are cooks in Latin-Caribbean countries like Puerto Rico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, but just about everyone would agree it's an essential building block in the kitchen. Aromatic and savory, sofrito has its origins in Spanish cuisine (and the Spanish word "to fry") and typically consists of onions sautéed in oil with ingredients like garlic, hot and/or sweet peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as cilantro, culantro, and oregano. Some sofritos are red, others are green, some chunky and others puréed. Sofritois also known by dozens of regional names including sazón in the Dominican Republic and hogao in Colombia.
Most cooks make up big batches of sofrito to store in the refrigerator or freezer and reach for it as needed. The flavorful mixture can be used as a foundation for stews and rice dishes like arroz con pollo, or to perk up everything from beans to eggs, steak, and vegetables. It can also be eaten as a dip like salsa.
Do you cook with sofrito? How do you make and use it?
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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