You might call sofrito the Latino version of mirepoix. It’s the base of many of the classic and timeless rice recipes, roasts, and stews.
While you might feel like THEY must all use the same sofrito recipes every Latin and Hispanic country has its own slightly different version of sofrito.
complexity, boldness, and passion.
Sofrito is a bold, passionate, and complex base of flavor used in classic recipes like arroz con gandules rice and pigeon peas , guisados or stews, and pernil.
Sofrito varies from country to country, but the base is typically the same, onions, either round or long (scallions), tomato, peppers, or both. The classic Puerto Rican sofrito is green, with round onions, green bell pepper, green aji dulce, garlic, and culantro or cilantro.
There is no wrong way to make sofrito and if there are ingredients you can’t find, like culantro, but have cilantro, then swap the culantro in the recipe for cilantro.
For the longest time, I had no idea culantro existed. Colombians rarely cook with it, cilantro however, we use without discretion. The beauty of diversity is the exposure to other cultures’ cuisines, and we were in love with the Puerto Rican restaurants in Brooklyn. My family first moved to Brooklyn from Cali, Colombia, and my aunt became an incredible fan of all things Puerto Rican. Including sofrito and lots, and lots of culantro.
Culantro has long and serrated leaves and thrives when cooked. On the other hand, cilantro is fragile and thrives in raw and cold dishes. Cilantro can become a little bitter when it is overly manipulated.
Culantro can be found in ethnic supermarkets and is sometimes called coriander.
Do not fret, however, if you cannot find culantro, cilantro is a great alternative.