Sofrito is a condiment that is commonly used as a basis for meals in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Other components such as garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro are combined with herbs and spices. Sofrito has been a staple of Latin and Caribbean cuisine for generations. Other countries, such as France and Italy, have picked up on the culture. People share recipes on National Sofrito Day. Some attend seminars and cookouts, where the victor is crowned “King or Queen of Sofrito” and their recipe is shared with others.
History of National Sofrito Day
Sofrito originated in Spain in the 14th century, appearing in one of the oldest cookbooks. When the Spaniards began colonizing the Caribbean and Latin America, they brought the dish. The ingredients were onions with bacon and salt pork. Sofrito is spread across the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Portugal, and Italy. In different countries and regions, the recipe takes on different flavors. Some countries had ingredients that others did not. Socio-cultural differences also played a part in the variety of sofrito recipes.
In the Dominican Republic, sofrito was known as ‘sazon.’ Sazon used vinegar for extra flavor and annatto for color. ‘Recaito’ was Puerto Rico’s version of sofrito. Ingredients included coriander and chili peppers. The Cuban sofrito had lots of tomatoes and red peppers for sweetness and color. They also threw in diced ham. The Brazilians mixed bay leaves into their sofrito, and in Mexico, cumin seeds and jalapenos added a spicy, smoky twist. Portugal’s ‘refogado’ was much more basic, made of minced garlic and diced onion.
Today, sofrito is almost universal. Many countries have versions of sofrito with different names and ingredients. Variants like the French ‘mirepoix’ are made of carrots, leeks, and celery, or the Italian ‘battuto.’ Pre-made Sofrito is sold at grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and food stalls.
National Sofrito Day timeline
The first sofrito recipe appears in a Catalan cookbook, “Libre de Sent Sovi.”
Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife, Carolina, open Goya Santo Domingo, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. that stocks pre-made sofrito.
Vivian Jarrett launches Tainos Sofrito & Mojo, selling homemade sofrito exclusively at farmers’ markets.
Diedrich pens “Sofrito,” a novel about a man who relocates to Cuba to save his struggling restaurant by obtaining a secret chicken dish recipe containing — you guessed it — sofrito.
National Sofrito Day FAQs
What is sofrito composed of?
Sofrito is composed of onions, tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, culantro, coriander, and olive oil.
What does ‘sofrito’ mean in English?
‘Sofrito’ is a Spanish term that translates to “fry something lightly.”
What is a substitute for sofrito?
You can substitute sofrito with freshly chopped peppers, onions, and cilantro.
National Sofrito Day Activities
Make sofrito at home
Homemade sofrito is the best because you can choose your ingredients and the amounts used. It also leaves your kitchen smelling delightful.
Try out different kinds
Puerto Rican sofrito is different from Dominican sofrito, and Haitian sofrito is different from Italian sofrito. Try out the different flavors and recipes to see which one is your favorite.
Share some sofrito recipes with family and friends. Everyone should enjoy good food.
5 Tantalizing Facts About Sofrito
It wasn’t always a tomato sauce
Sofrito did not contain tomatoes until Christopher Columbus brought tomatoes to Europe in the 16th century.
Sofrito is an ingredient, not a meal
Sofrito is a cooking base for dishes; it's not a dip, sauce, or spread.
Keep it fresh
Because it uses organic ingredients, sofrito spoils relatively fast; it’ll last about a week before you need to whip up a fresh batch.
It gives you smooth skin
Sofrito contains tomatoes and bell peppers, foods rich in carotenoids, which protect your skin from the sun and wrinkling.
Good for the heart
The garlic in sofrito lowers blood pressure, regulates cholesterol, and prevents cell damage.
Why We Love National Sofrito Day
Sofrito is purely organic and uses fresh ingredients. It’s a tasty but healthy addition to your recipes.
Packed with flavor
Sofrito adds a kick of flavor and spice to your dishes. Once you taste it in your cooking, you’ll always feel like a meal without sofrito lacks a bit of oomph.
It’s incredibly diverse
There’s a reason sofrito is famous across the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Mediterranean. It’s a diverse dish that’s easily substituted with whatever ingredients you have available, and you can tweak it to suit any soup or sauce of your liking.
National Sofrito Day dates