In the Dominican Republic, sofrito is also called sazón. (See cook's note at the bottom of the recipe.) Typical ingredients included in a Dominican sofrito are bell peppers, onions, garlic, annatto (achiote), oregano, vinegar, tomato paste or sauce, and cilantro.
Here's my recipe for Dominican Sofrito. If you cannot find ground annatto—also called achiote or bijol—you can leave it out or substitute saffron.
- 2 red onions (peeled and diced)
- 2 large green bell pepper (seeds removed and diced)
- 1 head of garlic (cloves peeled and minced)
- 1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimentos (drained)
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground annatto (aka achiote)
Chop and blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Place the mixture in a glass jar with a tight lid. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
How to Use It: Sofrito is usually the first thing to go into the pot when making soups, stews, beans, and rice dishes. You can use it right away or store it in the refrigerator for later use.
How to Store It: Because it’s used almost daily, it isn’t unusual for home cooks to prepare big batches of sofrito and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Freshly made sofrito can be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator or frozen in plastic bags in 1/4 to 1/2 cup portions for use anytime.
On the islands, it's common to find different recipes with the same name or different names for the same recipe. The confusion comes from the individuality of cooks and the mingling of cultures and languages in the Caribbean. This recipe is a perfect example. In the Spanish language, sazón means seasoning. But, the Dominican sazón recipe is in line with the sofrito recipes of Puerto Rico and Cuba. If you ask for sazón on these two islands, you'll get something totally different—a dry granular mix of seasoned salt.
Sofrito wasn't invented on any of the Spanish-speaking islands, nor is it unique to the Caribbean. Read my sofrito article to learn about sofrito's origins, history, how it got to the islands and how it became an indispensable part of the cuisines from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.