You can almost hear this cooking technique when you say the Spanish word sofrito — or ‘softly fry’. This is a technique that describes an immeasurable number of sauces that form the basis of many other dishes. I often explain sofrito to newcomers as a rich, spicy, sloppy stock (bouillon) cube. Generally, they all start with oil or rendered pig fat in which onion and other foods such as tomatoes, green capsicums, ham or sausage are gently cooked, but the one thing that ties them together is the cooking method — ‘low and slow’, low heat and slow cooking. I always take great pride and pleasure in making a rich sofrito.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low–medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaves, with a large pinch of salt to draw out the moisture and intensify the flavour. Cook for 8–10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the capsicum and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until well softened. Add the tomato and continue cooking for 1¼ hours, or until rich and jam-like, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the base of the pan. Sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.
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