Sofrito is a Puerto Rican cooking base made from aromatics that packs a huge flavor punch. If you've never cooked with Puerto Rican sofrito, you're missing out on something amazing.
I learned to make sofrito from my wonderful In-laws. My husband's family is Puerto Rican, and after moving in together, he began to miss his favorite meals that he grew up with. In order to make those, though, I had to get jars of sofrito from my Father-in-law. After taking a portion of his stash for a few years, we finally found time for him to show me how to make it myself! The process is very easy, but it was the proportions I needed to see. My In-laws have been making this by eye their whole lives, so it was helpful to see them do it, so I could measure for myself to get it just right. Ajies dulces, which are typically included in Puerto Rican sofrito are very hard to find where I live, so an In-law approved substitute has been included in their place.
I most recently used this recipe to make Stewed Beans, and after getting the big thumbs up from my family, I'm ready to post this here.
Making this recipe
This recipe couldn't be easier to make, but some of the ingredients can be a little difficult to find. Your best bet is to find a Latin grocery store if you have trouble. For this recipe you'll need:
Green bell pepper
Lots of garlic- I get the peeled bulk bag to save my time and sanity
Small sweet peppers- the ones that come in the little mixed bags are perfect and serve to replace the Carribean ajies dulces. If you can't find these either, no problem! Just double the green peppers instead.
Culantro (see below)
Kosher salt- This adds some flavor and also serves to help preserve it a little longer in the fridge
Once you have these ingredients, you just give them a quick blitz in the food processor, and voila! You have your cooking base.
What is Culantro?
If you have any trouble finding ingredients, it will be that last one. Culantro is a tropical herb that can go by a lot of different names: culantro, recao, shadow beni, Mexican coriander, long coriander, and sawtooth coriander are just some of the names you might find it being sold under. It looks much different from cilantro as it has very long, serrated leaves. It smells similar to cilantro, but it's flavor is MUCH stronger. Without this special herb, your sofrito won't taste like sofrito, so don't sub it out. I get mine at a nearby Latin grocery.
Measuring Your Ingredients
You'll notice that I provided most of my measurements in grams. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, grams are more precise than ounces, so you'll have a measurement that's closer to my recipe and get better results. Second, I prefer to measure ingredients like leaves by weight because it's far too easy to squish them down and use too many, or leave them too lose and have far too few. This way, what you'll measure is what I measured.
Be sure to weight your leaves BEFORE you wash them as the water will add weight. My leaves were bone dry when I weighed them. I also chose to weigh my peppers before I cut them because I thought that would help you choose how many peppers to use without cutting them all up first. Weigh those out first, then cut them up for the food processor. I did not weigh the onions because small differences in size won't alter the flavor that much. Just find two Spanish onions that are fairly large and you're good to go.
This recipe makes about 6 cupts of Sofrito. When stored in an airtight container, like a mason jar or other container with a lid, Sofrito will last about 2 weeks in the fridge. I use about 1/2 cup at a time for my recipes and also tend to give a bunch away to people who don't want to make it themselves, so I go through it just fine. But if you're worried it might be too much for you, you can split the recipe in half or freeze it in 1/4 cup portions. 1/4 cup is usually the smallest amount you'll use for a full recipe and that makes it easy to double. You will know if you're refrigerated sofrito isn't good anymore because it will lose it's bright green color and turn a darker, unpleasant, brown-green.
Puerto Rican Sofrito
110 Grams culantro (about 47 grams once stems are removed)
2 Large Spanish Onions
2 Large bunches cilantro (about 33 grams once stems are removed)
2 Heaping cups of garlic cloves (about 100 average sized cloves)
2 Large Green bell peppers (about 200 grams each before they're cut)
400 Grams small sweet peppers (measured before they are cut and cleaned)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
Cut stems from peppers and remove seeds. Cut into chunks; set aside.
Cut ends from onions, remove skins, and cut into chunks; set aside.
Clean the herb leaves well as they can hold a lot of dirt. Dry well, remove from stems and set aside.
Add all ingredients, except salt, to a food processor. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to work in batches. Add mixture to a large bowl, and salt and mix well.
Makes about 6 cups of sofrito.