Sofrito lies at the heart of so many Puerto Rican recipes. Sofrito is a beautifully colorful aromatic menagerie of finely chopped and blended fried peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and spices. The sauce adds a powerful and balanced punch of fresh ingredients to nearly any dish. Whether added to meats, grains, or soups, sofrito brings an unmistakably Puerto Rican flavor.
Sofrito is a cooking base used similarly to how French cuisine uses a mirepoix. The Puerto Rican sofrito arose out of the blending of various traditions and cultures arriving in the Caribbean, just like Puerto Rico itself. A very early version of sofrito can be traced back to the year 1324 in a Catalan cookbook called Libre de Sent Sovi, according to Chef Yadira Garcia of Happy Healthy Latina. Sofrito then traveled the world with the Spanish during the colonial period, taking on its own true life wherever it landed.
Puerto Rican sofrito makes hearty use of cilantro, which gives the sauce its bright green color and fresh aroma. Additionally, a splash of white or apple cider vinegar adds a uniquely bright punch to Puerto Rican varieties. However, no sofrito is the same as the next version, and families will pass down unique variations through the generations, some of the recipes being prized secrets. Many restaurants and bars across the island will each have their unique way of preparing and presenting sofrito throughout the many dishes that use it.
Slowly but surely, the dish is spreading across the continental U.S., but many people may still need help sourcing the ingredients and preferred pepper varieties at their local grocery stores. If you want to experience the magic of sofrito flavor for yourself, you should absolutely try to make some at home! For many Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S., keeping up with the family recipe for sofrito is a treasured way to maintain culture and identity.
If ingredients are too hard to find or if you’re craving the unmatched flavor of authentic sofrito, then it is absolutely worthwhile to head to Puerto Rico for the real deal! When you make your way to San Juan, the best way to experience the wide variety of uses and styles of sofrito is to take a tour of the restaurants and bars with decades of experience using local ingredients, perfecting traditional recipes, and creatively applying their expertise. Our walking food tours will lead you through beautiful historic sites, all while giving you a chance to experience the personality and authentic character of San Juan. Our bilingual expert guides have close, lasting friendships with the restaurants and bars along our tours, which gives our guests a chance to get behind the scenes of the Puerto Rican foodie scene.
When you’re ready to book your food tour and take your Puerto Rico vacation to the next level, you can book with Flavors Food Tours to skip the lines on the best restaurants around San Juan! Whether you’re interested in traditional favorites or the innovative hit chefs around our beautiful city, be sure to book with us and experience the magic of Puerto Rican cuisine for yourself. You’ll likely find a new favorite recipe, and you can taste precisely how and why sofrito is perhaps the most beloved and memorable taste in our cuisine.