Homemade Sofrito and Recaito

If you come from a Puerto Rican family, you understand that Goya products are permanent fixtures in our kitchen cabinets- without them it seems like a part of the family is missing. Why are we so dependent on them? Maybe it’s because Goya is one of the few brands on the market completely catering to an Hispanic consumer market–and we appreciate that.  But depenedence on convenience isn’t always a good thing when it comes to cooking, especially when you’re concerned about high sodium, preservatives or the origin of ingredients.

In the past, whenever I attempted a Puerto Rican recipe that said to make the seasoning or sauce bases from scratch, I was pretty confused as to why the products in the Goya bottles looked so different from the homemade versions. I wanted to make the traditional arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) completely homemade without any preservatives, but after reading a couple Puerto Rican cookbooks or handwritten recipes from family, I realized that ingredients and measurements for seasoning bases like sofrito and recaito were as different from author to author as the amount of Spanish dialects that abound- not too many, but just enough to get slightly lost in translation.

Fortunately, I had some help from mom, my cousin, and from Puerto Rican chef Daisy Martinez. On her show, Daisy Cooks, she really sealed the deal by convincing me not only was it easy to make your own sofrito and recaito base flavorings, but that their uses are so versatile it’d be a shame not to make them yourself.  In fact, sofrito is actually used in Spanish, French and Italain (sofritto) cooking- I mistakenly thought it was unique to Puerto Rican cuisine.

Basic Sofrito

Here’s what I came up with that sort of combined everything the books and the cooks told me. The amounts are a lot more than needed to season one pot of rice, but that’s what freezer ice cube trays are best used for. 1-2 cubes is what I use per  2 cups of rice. You can use more or lesss, depending on how much you like the flavor. Just be sure to label your freezer trays or containers if you are making both of the seasonings- it’s hard to tell the difference once they’re frozen!  Use in rices, soups, to flavor meats and even fried or scrambled eggs- absolutely delicous! Feel free to halve, double or even triple the recipes- you won’t mess up anything!

Ingredients & Directions

  •  1 white onion, diced
  • 2 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers, roughly chopped
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 culantro leaves (if you can’t find these, just double up on the cilantro)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, preferably without the skin, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large bell pepper, roughly chopped

Directions

Clean all ingredients very well.  Put everything in food processor or blender and mix until all ingredients are completely blended together. Lasts several days in the refrigerator, but if you won’t use right away, freeze and remove as necessary.

Basic Recaito

Ingredients

  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cubanelle pepper
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 culantro leaves (if you don’t have them, just use cilantro instead)

Directions

  1. Clean all ingredients very well.
  2. Put everything in food processor or blender and mix until all ingredients are completely blended together. Lasts several days in the refrigerator, but if you won’t use right away, freeze and remove as necessary.

Bismillah y Buen Provecho!

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10 comments

  1. Oh wow……awesome and aromatic recipes…..Informative post too….

  2. These look so easy and I bet they taste a million times better than anything you can buy in the store:)

  3. mmmmm yummy I can imagine the smell in the kitchen as I type

  4. Aishah Bey Rodriguez

    Salaams!!! I ‘m so happy you posted on this very true statement!!!! Growing up my mother always bought GOYA frozen recaito… she has never liked using sofrito… and of course, the bottles of Adobo were always on stock!!! Yet, as I’ve gotten older, ‘wiser’, LOL, and more educated about food contents, I never keep these in my kitchen!!! I prefer to make my own, and I must say, your recipes are right on the money!!! Thanks!! :D

  5. This makes me so happy! Can’t wait to try it! Yayy..jazakiAllahu khayr!

    Ques: Do you think I would be able to make the rice in a rice cooker with the sofrito? Or is it best to make it on the stove?

  6. I can’t tell you how excited I am to go home and try these recipes!! My husband is Puerto Rican and we both grew up in a hispanic neighborhood. His family is the best when it comes to substituting out the pork from the meat dishes, but what I’m most excited about is healthy sofrito! I hate having to use the pre-packaged spice mixes/bases. It literally pains me to have to use all those preservatives.

    The hubby is definitely going to be happy tonight :)

  7. Aminah bint Dave Arroyo

    Salaams ukhti! SubhanaAllah you have no idea how excited I am to come across your blog! MashaAllah. I got it from one of the yahoo groups I am in and my heart just jumped for joy when I read that your puerto rican too! I felt alone as a PR muslimah and now I see that I am not. Alhamdulillah. My mom always had Goya in the house but NEVER did she use Goya Recaito or Sofrito. Oh nooo, I remember many childhood memories of having to peel the garlic, chop the onions, clean the green peppers and little tiny sweet peppers, etc to help her make her own recaito. Now I make my own after years of using Goya because I am working mother and didnt have time to cook from scratch. Anyway, Jazakaallahu khayr for this blog! I love it and cant wait to try your recipes, InshaAllah. Barakaallahu feeki
    Aminah UmmTaulib
    Columbus OH

    • @Aminah, thank you so much for your heartfelt response. I hope you’ll come back again soon (I’m also from Ohio!).

  8. Aminah bint Dave Arroyo

    as salaamu alaikum sis. where in ohio are you from? feel free to email me. I look forward to hearing from you. Ramadan Mubarak!

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