Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ingredients for Cooking Puerto Rican Food

There are some very essential ingredients when it comes to cooking Puerto Rican food. They make up what’s called sofrito.
Now…the term sofrito is used a bit interchangeably because it refers to both the overall mixture of these ingredients as well as a specific item.
Either way, we use sofrito (the overall mixture) for just about everything we cook. It’s used in yellow rice, beans, stews, soups, and pretty much anything that is cooked in a sauce.
It’s a staple.
5 Ingredients for Cooking Puerto Rican Style Sofrito or Recaito Goya Sofrito
Like I said, sofrito can also be a specific item. Many people make their own sofrito by blending various peppers and herbs in a food processor. However, us modern mamis buy the bottled or frozen version. Goya sofrito comes in both. At least in the supermarket.

Sometimes I buy recaito instead of sofrito. It’s basically the same thing and many of the ingredients overlap. They serve the same purpose. Again, Goya recaito comes both in a bottle and frozen.
Sazon is a blend of different seasonings and spices and also has achiote in it. Achiote (or annatto) is what gives our food the orange-y color. Sometimes half a packet is all you need.
Adobo replaces the salt and pepper combo in a Puerto Rican kitchen. We do not season our meats with salt and pepper. Instead, we use adobo. And, please for the love of all that is right, DO season BOTH sides of the meat. I can’t for the life of me understand why you would want to eat meat that tastes good on one side only.
Tomato Sauce & Tomato Paste
Tomato sauce adds some more coloring and gives a great flavoring to the gravy/sauce. It also helps to give texture, along with…

Tomato paste goes right along with tomato sauce. You can’t really have one without the other (which is why together they count as one item). The tomato paste definitely adds a thicker consistency to the sauce.
Green Olives
I was told by a former co-worker once that she loves to eat olives, but would have never thought to cook with them. Just a couple of olives in the rice or beans adds a great flavor.
And there you have it. Five ingredients that are used in everyday Puerto Rican cooking and make-up our base seasoning for nearly all dishes.
*Please note that you don’t have to get Goya; there are other brands out there. I just couldn’t find them to showcase.*
Have you ever had or cooked any Puerto Rican dishes? Which are your favorite(s)?