“Making all of your sauce bases and seasonings from scratch, will always produce the biggest amount of flavor while still practicing clean eating.”
What is Sofrito/sazon?
Sofrito is a base for cooking that is used in many different countries around the world. The French call it “mirepoix”, Dominicans call it “sazon”, Puerto Ricans along with the Spanish call it “sofrito”, and the Portuguese call it “refogado”. Although the cooking bases vary by country, what they all have in common is that they are packed with flavor!
I grew up in a Dominican household where my mom would make a batch of sofrito/sazon once a month. She would freeze some and pass the rest along to the rest of the family. Making sofrito/sazon was an all-day affair where all of my aunts would gather in the kitchen, cerveza in hand, catch up on the latest gossip, and make sazon.
Mom, if you’re reading this, I LOVE YOUR SAZON! However, through my travels, I have learned a lot about spices and ingredients and I’ve incorporated these back into my recipes to make them my own. Therefore, my sofrito/sazon recipe is slightly different than a traditional sofrito/sazon.
How is my Sofrito/sazon different?
In my sofrito/sazon recipe, you will notice that I added scallions, shallots, lemon, and tomato paste, all ingredients that aren’t usually found in a traditional sofrito. So why did I do it?
I have the pleasure of having a lovely Spanish-Brazilian-Portuguese neighbor whom I love to cook with! We often share recipes, and recognize how similar yet different our cooking culture is. Through her, I realized how valuable the scallion is, and how much flavor it brings to dishes. It adds a slightly sweet, garlicky, but herby note to dishes. It also does wonders when it comes to aromatics. If you don’t use scallions often, it’s time to start!
I incorporated shallots because of the natural sweetness it brings to dishes. While living in London, I couldn’t help but notice how prominent of an ingredient the shallot is, and for good reason! It gives a flavor, that an onion could never achieve on its own. Since discovering it, it’s an ingredient that is a staple in my kitchen.
I added lemon because a touch of acidity helps bring out flavors more, ultimately getting you closer to umami. Lastly, the tomato paste naturally adds color while still contributing to the flavor profile.
By adding these ingredients to my sofrito, I can genuinely say it has given my sofrito that extra kick it needed to stand out. My sofrito has a strong garlic profile, but the sweetness of the shallots and tomato paste balance it out perfectly.
You probably also noticed that I separated the liquid from the blended mixture. This is because tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, and onions have a high level of water composition. If we kept the liquid, it most definitely would not be sofrito but uncooked vegetable stock. Removing the liquid is an essential step.
However, the liquid that is extracted is extremely valuable. It is packed full of flavor and nutrients and we simply can’t just throw out. I like to use it as a vegetable stock base. Add it to a soup, rice, stew, or any dishes that have water as a base. I guarantee adding this stock instead of water will elevate your dish.
…And the answer to the question that must be on your mind, Yes I’m aware I didn’t season my sofrito/sazon! This is where my mom would throw her hands up and totally object. SORRY MOM!! It’s a personal choice, but for me, I do find that when you don’t season your sofrito/sazon, you’re able to use it more universally. You can then add your seasoning to each dish itself. Here is where you can also add adobo to adjust the salt component that is missing. Try it without seasoning however, if you feel its more convenient to season it ahead, just add one TBSP of salt before adding the mixture to the airtight containers. If you decide to add the seasoning, be mindful of any other high-sodium seasoning blends you may be adding to your dish.
Here is my take on sofrito/sazon. By adding some not so traditional flavors to the profile, your dishes will have that extra kick bringing you closer to that umami goal. So grab your friends or family, don’t forget your cerveza, and get ready to immerse yourself into the cultural adventure of making sofrito. Gossip not required HAHAHA! But I’ll warn you, it always seems to find you in the kitchen especially with that cerveza at hand!
Use my sofrito/sazon recipe along with some adobo for a powerful flavor combination!
Time-saving hack: Use an ice tray to freeze some sofrito. This gives you a great portion size. Once frozen and set, take out the sofrito cubes and place them into a ziplock, then place back in the freezer. This saves you time and freezer space.
Not your momma's sofrito
- Blender or food processor
- 2 large bowls
- Airtight containers
- 4 Medium red onion (peeled rough chop)
- 1 Large yellow onion (peeled rough chop)
- 4 Shallots (peeled rough chop)
- 2 Fresh Garlic bulbs (peeled)
- 2 Sweet bell pepper (Seeded)
- 1 Green bell pepper (seeded)
- 6 Medium tomatoes
- 1 Large cilantro bunch (coriander)
- 1 Large scallions bunch (green onion)
- 2 Scotch bonnet (or any spicy pepper) (Seeded for less heat)
- 2 lemon (juice)
- 2 TBSP Organic tomato paste
- Prepare the ingredients by peeling & seeding the peppers, Peeling garlic & onions, and extracting the Lemon juice.
- Blend the ingredients by groups and pour them into a large bowl, repeat for the rest of the ingredients. I.E: first onions & shallots, then all peppers, followed by cilantro & Scallions, then tomatoes & garlic. You want the mixtures to have texture, not liquified. Use the lemon juice to help with blending.
- Prepare the second bowl by adding the sifter on top. Pour the entire blended mixture from the first bowl into the sifter to extract most of the liquid (leave s small amount). Use a spoon to mix and help aid in the extraction.
- When you're done, you should have two bowls. One with all the liquid, and one with a thick mixture. Save the liquid to use for another recipe.
- Add the tomato paste to the thick mixture and mix. Store in an airtight container and you're DONE!