- Tanya Apr 23, 2005 03:09 PM
I need to find a prepared sofrito without MSG...are there any natural brands out there?
Alternatively, can you provide a small serving recipe?
Sofrito is so easy to make.
Here is all I do:
Crush as much garlic as you want.
Chop a med. onion very fine.
chop 1 roma tomato fine and add some kosher salt.
Chop 1/4 bell pepper very fine.
Throw in a pan with plenty of olive oil and cook on low heat til very soft. Add salt if necessary.
This stuff is like seasoned butter, but better for you!
Haven't read the Rogue's linked material above, but most sofrito has culantro as a key ingredient. You can find it in Asian markets, sometimes as Vietnamese Coriander or Long Coriander. Also to be found in any Latino/Hispanic market. It looks a bit like skinny Romaine lettuce or fat dandelion greens to me. You'd be hard pressed to find a Puerto Rican or Cuban cook who didn't start many dishes with their homemade sofrito!
Or, if you're in an Asian market where it's most likely to be found, as "ngo gai" or "sawleaf herb".
That said, I usually make sofregit, which is just onions, sometimes garlic, and a tomato "melted" with olive oil and salt... it's one of the five pillars on which Catalan cuisine is built, along with romesco, xamfaina, allioli and picada.
culantro = recao = "asian cilantro."
I've found it at a few markets, a lot of times imported from places like Costa Rica. It's pretty much a tropical weed - the kind of plant you would find growing between cracks on a sidewalk. That said it's not totally necessary for a sofrito, you can make do with cilantro instead.
I will say that you shouldn't get hung up on any particular recipe or ingredient. Sofrito varies widely, the kind I personally grew up with (buying in jars and seeing my parents make it fresh) was usually green. It might have red bits due to pieces of smoked red peppers or fresh red peppers, but certainly no tomato.
Depends on what you call sofrito. Different communities make it differently. In my family (mostly puerto rican) our sofrito is green, and Goya sells a prepared (but with preservatives) product called recaito that is close but no cigar. Another important ingredient are ajicitos dulces, which are tiny sweet peppers. they look like very very small scotch bonnetts, and in many latin markets can be found prebagged.
Here's our "sofrito" (recaito) recipe
One large spanish onion
1/ half large head of garlic
1 cup washed and packed cilantro with stems and leaves
1 cup washed and packed culantro (recao)
1 cup ajicitos dulces
1/2 to 1 cup of a light tasting oil (optional, but with oil keeps longer than without)
puree via food processor, slowly adding in oil to emulsify the mxture, turning it a medium to pale green color, depending on how much oil you add. We store ours in jars in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil on top to keep it from oxidizing.
You can also look up Daisy Martinez' of Daisy Cooks! her sofrito was pretty good.
If you are talking about the puerto rican type sofrito, there seem to be a couple of things that people give this name to.
The one I have made tho it has been many years (delicious) from the book Puerto Rican Cookery is a cooked sofrito - My recollection is that it starts from a base of fried salt pork, which is then colored and flavored by frying some achiote seeds,then removed. You then add minced onions, garlic and green and maybe red peppers, along with aji dulce (the essential little sweet peppers), sautee for a while then add the cilantro and culantro.While this is fussy to make, it keeps very well. Goya sofrito is orangy-yellow in color and similar to the above tho obviously not as good!
The other type I think is sold as recao in the grocery (frozen and canned) it is a fresh green sauce as some have described, made with ground onion,garlic, chiles, cilantro and culantro with maybe some oil. Its not cooked.
Both are good as a base for soups and cooked dishes tho obviously the cooked version is going to contribute a richer, fuller flavor and the green will give a fresher, herbier flavor.
What ever you do, go out and find those aji dulces - their flavor is delightful and charactistic
re: jen kalb
Here is Carmen Aboy Valldejuli's sofrito recipe, from Puerto Rican Cookery, a classic book. Recipe for use in a dish serving 6-8 (Can be scaled up, for keeping in frig or freezer)
Rapidly brown 1 oz salt port and 2 oz lean cured ham
On low heat, add
1tbsp lard or veg oil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 onion, 1 green pepper, 3 sweet chili pepppers (aji dulce(, 3 fresh culantro leaves and 2 cloves of garlic, all finely chopped or ground.
fry gently, stirring for 10 minutes or til tender
I'm with porkpi, why would you want to buy a commerical brand when sofrito is so easy to make?
This is my favorite recipie from Daisy Martinez
Makes about 4 cups.
If you can't find ajices dulces or culantro, don't sweat. Up the amount of cilantro to 1 1⁄2 bunches.
2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch cilantro, washed
7 to 10 ajices dulces (see note below), optional
4 leaves of culantro (see note below), or another handful cilantro
3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth.
The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully. Freeze sofrito in 1⁄2 cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it in this book.
Pantry Notes: Ajices Dulces, also known as cachucha or ajicitos are tiny sweet peppers with a hint of heat. They range in color from light to medium green and yellow to red and orange. They add freshness and an herby note to the sofrito and anything you cook. Do not mistake them for Scotch bonnet or Habanero chilies (which they look like)--those two pack a wallop when it comes to heat. If you can find ajicitos in your market, add them to sofrito. If not, up the cilantro and add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Culantro is not cilantro. It has long leaves with tapered tips and serrated edges. When it comes to flavor, culantro is like cilantro times ten. It is a nice, not essential addition to sofrito. (See Sources for both the above.)