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Sofrito (Spanish, pronounced [soˈfɾito]), sofregit (Catalan), soffritto (Italian, pronounced [sofˈfritto]), or refogado (Portuguese, pronounced [χɨfuˈgadu]/[ʁefuˈɡadu]) is a sauce used as a base in Latin American, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese cooking. Preparations may vary, but it typically consists of aromatic ingredients cut into small pieces and sautéed or braised in cooking oil.
In modern-day Spanish cuisine, sofrito consists of garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. This is known as refogado, sufrito, or sometimes as estrugido in Portuguese-speaking nations, where only onions and olive oil are often essential, tomato, garlic and bay laurel leaves being the other most common ingredients.
In Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is heavily emphasized as the third critical component in the base along with tomatoes and onions. Garlic is optional, as it is not considered an integral part of the standard sofregit recipe. The earliest mentioned recipe of sofregit, from around the middle of the 14th century, is made with onion and oil only as tomatoes or peppers did not arrive in Europe until long after the discovery of the Americas. Some sofregit recipes do not contain tomatoes at all, but are made more complex with the addition of diced vegetables such as leeks or bell peppers.
In Italian cuisine, chopped onions, carrots and celery is battuto, and then, slowly cooked in olive oil, becomes soffritto. It is used as the base for most pasta sauces, such as bolognese sauce, but occasionally it can be used as the base of other dishes, such as sauteed vegetables. For this reason, it is a fundamental component in Italian cuisine. It may also contain garlic, shallot, or leek.
In Greek cuisine, the term sofrito refers to a specific dish native to, and almost exclusively to be found on, the island of Corfu. Sofrito is a veal steak slow-cooked in a white wine, garlic, and herb sauce, and is usually served with rice.
In Brazilian cuisine, the verb refogar also encompasses dishes that are fried in vegetable oil before being boiled or steamed, even when the actual fried seasoning is not there. Similarly, rice that has been toasted in vegetable oil before it is boiled is technically refogado.
In Colombian cuisine, sofrito is called hogao which is made with only long green onion and tomato, or guiso is made mostly of tomato, onion, coriander, cumin and sometimes garlic; it is used when cooking stews, meats, rice, as a dip or spread for arepas or other street foods and other dishes.
In Cuban cuisine, sofrito is prepared in a similar fashion, but the main components are Spanish onions, garlic, and green bell peppers. It is a base for beans, stews, rices, and other dishes, including ropa vieja and picadillo. Other secondary components include tomato sauce, dry white wine, cumin, bay leaf, and cilantro. Chorizo (kind of spicy, cured sausage), tocino (salt pork) and ham are added for specific recipes, such as beans.
In Dominican cuisine, sofrito is also called sazón, and is a liquid mixture containing vinegar, water, and sometimes tomato juice. A sofrito or sazón is used for rice, stews, beans, and other dishes. A typical Dominican sofrito is made up of very finely chopped green, red, and yellow bell peppers, red onions, garlic, ground oregano, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, water, and cilantro. Ingredients vary and can change, for instance cubanelle peppers can substitute for bell peppers, celery can replace onions, and parsley or culantro can be used in place of cilantro.
In Puerto Rican cuisine, sofrito is mostly used when cooking rice dishes, sauces, and soups. Sofrito is closely related to recaíto. The two main ingredients that give Puerto Rican sofrito its characteristic flavor are recao (culantro) and ají dulce, but red and green cubanelle peppers, red bell peppers, pimientos, yellow onions, garlic, plum tomatoes, and cilantro are also added. All red peppers are roasted, seeded, and then added to the sofrito. Sofrito is traditionally cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, tocino (bacon), salted pork and cured ham. A mix of stuffed olives and capers called alcaparrado is usually added with spices such as bay leaf, sazón and adobo.
In some Caribbean cuisine, sofrito is seasoned lard and functions as a base for many traditional dishes, but prepared differently from the method described above. Lard (acquired from rendering pork fat) is strained, and annatto seeds are added to colour it yellow, and later strained out. To the colored lard is added a ground mixture of cured ham, bell pepper, chile pepper, and onion; after this, mashed coriander leaves (cilantro) and oregano leaves are added. Garlic cloves are added in a tea ball, and the sauce is simmered for half an hour. The term also refers to a number of related sauces and seasonings in the Caribbean and Central and Latin America.
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