The Washington Post


Sofrito 12.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Jul 2, 2018

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.

To read the accompanying story, see: Sazón and struggle: In Puerto Rico and Cuba, food is a marker of resilience and creativity.

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

Where to Buy: Culantro, also called saw-tooth herb or wild coriander, has long leaves with jagged edges and a flavor that is more assertive than cilantro. It is available in the produce section in Latino markets; we found it at Panam International on 14th Street NW in the District. Aji amarillo peppers are more often available in the freezer case at such markets, and at some Shoppers Food stores.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings; makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups

  • 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, ají 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.

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Recipe Source

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

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 15

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 0g 0%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 0mg 0%

Total Carbohydrates: 3g 1%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 0g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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