Puerto Rican Sofrito

Words by Von Diaz, Special to The Washington Post


12 servings (makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups)


Sometimes called recaito, this is thought to be the backbone of Puerto Rican cooking, and is found in the freezer of a typical Puerto Rican kitchen.


The original recipe called for aji dulce peppers, a sweet-spicy variety that looks like a habanero pepper and is native to Latin America and the Caribbean. We used aji amarillo peppers; see below.


Culantro, also called saw-tooth herb or wild coriander, has long leaves with jagged edges and a flavour that is more assertive than cilantro. It is available in the produce section in Latino markets. Aji amarillo peppers are more often available in the freezer case at such markets.


Make Ahead: It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months.


Adapted from “Coconuts and Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South,” by Von Diaz (University Press of Florida, 2018).




1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters

3 aji dulce peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (see headnote; may substitute aji amarillo peppers)

6 large cloves garlic

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

6 fresh culantro leaves (see headnote)

6 stems cilantro, coarsely chopped (leaves plus tender stems)




Combine the bell pepper, aji chiles and garlic in a food processor; puree until fairly smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides halfway through.

Add the onion; pulse five to seven times, until the mixture is again blended into a smooth puree.

Add the culantro and cilantro; pulse five or six more times to form a loose paste.

Transfer to a container for serving or storing.


Nutrition | Per serving: 15 calories, 0 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fibre, 2 g sugar


Read more about Sazón and struggle: In Puerto Rico and Cuba, food is a marker of resilience and creativity at www.washingtonpost.com.


Featured Image: Deb Lindsey, The Washington Post