Sofrito or refrito de cebolla consists of sauteed onion, garlic, cumin, achiote and salt. Refrito is used as a flavor base for many Latin American dishes. A refrito is a great foundation for many soups, stews, stir fries, and other dishes. It is very easy to make and is the secret to a lot of the flavor in the dishes that use it.
There a many different refritos, some include tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, parsley, etc, but the most basic one is made with oil (or lard), chopped onions, garlic, cumin, salt and achiote or annatto. Refrito is also known as sofrito and can sometime be found pre-made either frozen or in jars, but it is a lot better made fresh. You can leave it chunky or blend it to make a smoother sauce like consistency. It’s usually the first thing you make when preparing many dishes, but you can also make extra to add at the end of cooking – especially if the dish needs an extra kick of flavor.
Sofrito or Refrito de cebolla
- 2 tablespoons oil or lard or butter
- 1 yellow or white onion diced or chopped
- Minced garlic about 2 cloves per each onion
- Ground cumin about 2 tsp per each onion
- Achiote powder about 1 tsp per each onion
- Salt to taste added either when the refrito is made or when the final dish is almost done
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add all of the ingredients except the salt and stir well.
- Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and tender.
- Add salt to taste now or wait until later. You can use the refrito or sofrito exactly the way it is, or blend it if you want a smoother consistency.