Dominican sazon (also known as sofrito) is the essential cooking base in so many of your favorite dishes, says Belqui Millili Ortiz, one of our favorite D.R. homecooks and the host of the popular cooking blog, Belqui’s Twist. Today, Belqui lives with her family in Arizona, but her cooking corazón is in both the Dominican Republic and Washington Heights, where she grew up in a family of great cocineras.
Belqui became the family cook at 12 and was soon charged with making dinner every night, to help her parents who both had long bus and train commutes. Belqui remembers how proud she felt having a full, hot dinner on the table, calientita and ready to eat, when her mom and dad finally walked in the door each night.
This recipe for sazon, as it has always been called in Belqui’s house, is one of the first things she learned to make, she says. Good thing too, because this versatile seasoning sauce is one of the foundations of Dominican cooking. Belqui uses it in everything from traditional rice and beans to one of her favorites, pernil, marinated pork butt or leg that is slow-roasted until it falls off the bone.
“This sazon is a staple in our home. Growing up, my mom always made this. The thing to do is to make it ahead and freeze it in batches. So whenever you want that chicken, or beef, fish, shrimp—or whatever you are hungry for—all you have to do is go, grab a few dollops of this, and you are seasoned and ready to go,” says Belqui.
In her step-by-step sazon video, Belqui advises doubling or tripling her recipe sazon. ”Make it ahead, and make a few batches of it. So when you run out of one, you have more in the freezer. All you have to do is pull it out, and you’re good to go,” she sighs. ”Wonderful!”
One last tip from Belqui. ”Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients, she warns. “Hearing all these ingredients kind of freaks people out. But honestly, you just throw them all in the blender. That’s it. It makes every Dominican dish you make taste authentic and so delicious. And it’s easy, easy, easy.”