Puerto Rican Soul

 

Some of the ingredients for the sofrito

Some of the ingredients for the sofrito

To celebrate the Latin American spirit on Capitol Hill, infuse your dishes with a Caribbean kick. Try sofrito, the secret to the aromatic, flavorful cuisine from Puerto Rico. Sofrito resembles the holy trinity of Italian cuisine(onion, carrot, celery) in that it is the beginning of many dishes, but adds cilantro and culantro, herbs evocative of Latin America kitchens. Sofrito, also known as recaíto, is the essence of Puerto Rican cuisine: from stews to rice to casseroles, it imparts the complex flavors that characterizes much of this Caribbean fare–warm, aromatic, pungent and fruity.

In search of an authentic sofrito recipe, I made my way up to La Fonda Boricua, a Puerto Rican institution located in the heart of El Barrio in East Harlem. Here I ordered a dish of stewed goat (chivo guisado) and rice with pigeon peas(arroz con  güandules) with an avocado salad. The meat, to my dismay, was tough and excessively gamey, but its sauce was vibrant and perfumed with herbs and peppers, rounding out the nuttiness of the rice with its sweetness. 

Jorge Ayala, chef of La Fonda has shared his recipe of sofrito. Use it as a marinade for your favorite chicken or rice dishes, or any time you want to vary the flavors of your homemade meal. 

 

Sofrito(from Jorge Ayala of La Fonda Boricua)

1  cup chopped white onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped red pepper

4 garlic cloves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

1/4 cup culantro leaves

Blend all ingredients and add to ice tray. Freeze and use one cube per dish.

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