Cuban Sofrito with Garbanzo Beans on Rice
Sofrito is the common base for dishes among many Latino, Spanish style cuisines as Cuban, Puerto Rican, and including throughout the Caribbean.
What differs among the cultural varieties of Sofrito lies in the combination of varied herbs and spices used. The one commonality is that the lively and colorful Sofrito Base once prepared, can then be combined into a multitude of dishes. A spicy salsa dance of aroma to the senses.
Last weekend at the Le Dames d’ Escoffier Philadelphia event preparing a Cuban Soffrito was in the mix.
Some impromptu changes in the session had Dames President, Kathy Gold, Owner of In The Kitchen Cooking Company in Haddonfield, New Jersey jumping in to lead the sessions recipe preparation. Great fun was enjoyed by all, including those participants helping along on the sidelines and a volunteer sous extraordinaire.
Some Sofrito’s are hot and spicy, using from among an extended variety of dried spices and hot peppers and some are more mild flavored and each of these differences can depend on what is favored by a culture and what is preferred by the cook.
Once the Base is cooked then you might add, as we did on Saturday, Garbanzo Beans to complete the dish. Other possibilities among the recipes provided through this cooking session include using tomato paste and wine before adding tomato sauce, hence the Tomato Sofrito.
You can be quite daring in your Sofrito adventures combining together other ingredients such as chorizo sausage, chicken, shrimp, or perhaps using as a topping on a piece of grilled fish.
Sofrito can be served on rice as we prepare here today, or alternatively with pasta or mixed with some cubed, cooked potatoes, you could add tomatoes and broth hence preparing a soup. Are you getting the idea here on the true versatility of this dish?
The bright golden yellow rice color as shown in my finished photo is created when adding Goya brand Sazon, Con Culantro Y Aciote (Coriander and Annatto) which comes in a box with little packets. You can find this powder at any Hispanic section of the market. Essentially I don’t think Sazon renders a lot of flavor but it does provide the beautiful golden color that stacks up well highlighting the Sofrito with the Garbanzo Beans. Especially, it entices the kids such as my seven-year-old Grandson, the J-Dude and his neighborhood buddies who downed a couple of bowls each at one sitting.
Now onto the hot peppers, don’t you just love it when you are subconsciously thinking about or observing something and others then converse on that very same topic?
Yes, this happened to me last Saturday sharing that the jalapeno pepper doesn’t seem as hot as it used to be.
Especially delighted this is not a figment of my imagination there seems to be no actual scientific evidence on why this is occurring and it appears that perhaps the spiciest route is to choose jalapenos that have a bit of white crackling on them called striations.
Some say that when growing jalapenos in your garden you should essentially mistreat them, not offering them to too much water and in this way the heat within will thrive. I cannot confirm this suggestion either way.
The use of fresh herbs is also common in Sofrito typically either cilantro or parsley.
It would seem an omission to me if I should forget to mention the sexy sound of a dish called Sofrito, like it rolls right off the tongue. If you are not Latino, well then the mere suggestion that you are preparing a Sofrito might seem outright daring and exotic.
So there you have it a fresh, aromatic and flavorful base or a dish in itself that can be varied in any number of colorful ways and you can name it Sofrito or Sofrita, whatever rolls off the tongue then intriguing everyone at your shared table in your well rounded cultural culinary talents.