Spanish Sofrito Sauce
Base de Sofrito - a Basic Sauce for Paella!
For years we have been making paella on the basis of these small bags of ready made paella herbs that you can buy in the Spanish supermarkets. You simply add the contents of these small packages to the stock before you add it to the rice. Nothing wrong with it. They include everything, including the yellow color agent, and we have been enjoying delicious paellas for years.
However, over the last few years, while travelling through Spain, we have come to realize that the best paellas that we had, in really good restaurants, actually were not the vibrant yellow that we were used to, while they hardly ever had the "nice and dry rice grains" that we had at home...
So we went on a quest for the true paella recipe. Without the ready made bag of herbs, that is. That's how we got on to this beautiful Base de Sofrito recipe that you can use to make a very good paella. On top of that, you can also use this Sofrito as a basis for a whole bunch of other beautiful Spanish dishes.
Base de Sofrito - The Basis for a True Spanish Paella.
Base de Sofrito - A Spanish Basic Sauce
In every culture the kitchen has its own basic sauces that are made in advance and which are then used in the preparation of a number of dishes. In the Spanish kitchen there are the Sofritos like the "Cebolla Confitada" and this "Base de Sofrito".
This Base de Sofrito recipe consists of a mix of onion, garlic and tomato, and is best made in advance in a large quantity that you can then split up in ready portions for future use. For this recipe we assume two pounds of tomatos and one pound of onions, which will yield enough sofrito to make about ten paellas for two persons. (this sauce is made of fresh ingredients and can be kept frozen for quite a while)
Of course you can also make a very good paella by sautéing the onion, garlic and tomato on the spot in the paella pan, but you will work a lot quicker if you have the Base de Sofrito in the fridge ready for use.
Spanish Sofrito Ingredients
For this Spanish Sofrito recipe you will need the following ingredients:
|half a head|
|Onion *), chopped;|
|Ripe Tomatos **), skin removed, diced;|
|Olive Oil, for frying, so not Virgen Extra;|
*) Spanish cooks like to use the Cebolla Dulce Violeta de Figueres. This is a mild onion, solid, fresh taste, slightly sweet, little bit bitter. We sometimes take them home with us from a trip in Spain, but once we run out of them we switch to a mix of our "standard" yellow onions and sweet white onions.
**) In Spain they like to use the Tomate de Pera. If you can't get any of those, try any tomatos as long as they are mature and intensely red.
These are Spanish Tomate de Pera.
Preparation of this fragrant Spanish Sofrito sauce takes some time and attention, but is really quite easy:
Grind the chopped onion to a smooth sauce using a blender or other kitchen tool;
In a sautee pan over slow fire, and while stirring contantly, cook the onion sauce until all internal moisture has evaporated and the sauce has turned into a paste;
The Onion Sauce in the pan.
Meanwhile, add the garlic to the oil and grind to a smooth emulsion (fine garlic particles in oil) using a blender or other kitchen tool;
Once the internal juices have evaporated from the onion sauce (be careful not to let it burn!) add the garlic emulsion, turn the fire higher, and sautee the mix until it starts to get brown;
During sautéing, add oil if necessary to prevent the mix from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan;
Turn the fire to slow, add the sugar and salt, keep stirring;
Meanwhile, grind the diced tomatos to a smooth sauce using a blender or other kitchen tool;
Add the tomato sauce to the onion, keep stirring;
On slow fire, and constant stirring, allow most of the tomato juices to evaporate so the sauce thickens;
Once the sofrito sauce has thickened to a nice consistency, take the pan off the fire and allow it to cool down;
Sofrito: Onion, garlic and tomato thickened to a nice consistency...
Once the sauce has cooled down, distribute it into small portions that can be frozen in small plastic containers or as ice cubes, ready for future use!