If plantains are the most ubiquitous item on a Puerto Rican menu, sofrito is the secret sauce that gives so many of its best dishes that rich, aromatic flavor. Now, sofrito isn't unique to Puerto Rico. Throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Spain. But Puerto Rico has its own recipe, and it uses it liberally as a base for sauces, stews and rice-based dishes.
So when you tuck into an asopao, arroz con gandules or a hearty sancocho stew, you're also savoring sofrito, the tomato-based sauce made with garlic, onion, recao (culantro), peppers and other spices. It's a key component of so many recipes that if you've ever been to Puerto Rico, there's a chance you've already tried it!