sofrito

A guide to food in Spain

A B C D-E F-G-H I-J-K L-M-N O-P-Q R S T U-V-W-X-Y-Z

sofrito (sofregit in Catalan): lightly fried sauce of garlic, onions, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil and used as the base for many dishes.

Sofregit comes from the verb, fregir, meaning to fry. This is the foundation of the whole cuisine. Onions are fried very slowly, repeat very, very slowly, in olive oil until they form a caramelised gloop. This not only gives many Catalan dishes their dark ‘Gothic’ quality but a sweetness upon which the later addition of picades add the sour. Sometimes tomatoes are added. Although to many tastes no dish seems complete without tomatoes I think this addition is more to add moisture than any other effect, as with so many caramelised onions the sauce remains determinedly brown. As the sauce predates the discovery of the New World purists would argue that the tom is definitely verdura non grata in a sofregit ! Moreover, the presence of tomatoes can lead to the conundrum of when a strong sofregit becomes a weak samfaina (see below), but I’ll leave that one to the obsessive recipe collector! The making of the sofregit is often a weekly task as it keeps well and this is very handy as it is the basis of so many dishes.

By Simon Rice