Do we really do this?

Not long ago I came across a thread in one of our favorite forums* in which people discussed Dominican cooking. A friend of ours commented that most Dominican cooks used seasonings and calditos (bouillon/stock cubes) in their food. Is that really so?

sopita

As a child from a family of diabetic, hypertensive, picky eaters this was not the norm at my parental home. In fact, my maternal grandfather would refuse to eat anything that contained the dreaded “sopita” (he also hated garlic, but that’s neither here nor there). The fact that I hear so many people mentioning that they use powder seasonings and bouillons with such regularity both astounds  and concerns me; by now I’d be surprised that anyone hasn’t heard of the deleterious effects of excess sodium in our food. But I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, so more research is needed.

First of all, let me clarify that I am not to be taken as a model for healthy living. I eat well, exercise occasionally, and can stand to lose mumble, ahem, some pounds. I also do use vegetable bouillons in a couple of dishes (arroz con fideos, for example) when I don’t have time to prepare my own broth. So there. Out in the air.

I am not going to get all preachy (de gustibus non est disputandum); the point of this exercise is to get feedback from you. Do we really do this? How often do you use seasonings and bouillon cubes?

Aunt Clara

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* DR1 Forums

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{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Luis June 19, 2013, 12:41 PM

    My wife uses powder sopita almost all the time, I on the other hand don’t use it as much. Most of the recipes I choose to cook don’t usually call chicken/beef stock, and when they do I normally substitute with other ingredients, herbs from our garden tend to be my choice. Garlic, pepper and paprika are my starting point, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and a few others come from our garden :-).

  • Sandra Paez October 10, 2012, 4:59 PM

    Never!! There’s nothing better than fresh sofrito. It doesn’t take much to make it. I really don’t like those sopitas. They’re packed with artificial flavors & sodium.

  • Katherine September 7, 2012, 10:54 AM

    We do use sopita, like someone already commented we use the brand Maggi. However, at least in my house that’s not always use we have our own sason and that what its mostly added to our cooking.

  • Francine05 October 21, 2011, 6:10 PM

    I too must limit salt!

    It is frugal to save up bones to make stock.

    So I have a dog… she gets the vegetables and gristle, etc. (but no onions) with her dinner.

    Let cooked drained stock sit in the fridge overnight, skim the fat to discard.

    Then you have the makings of a fine soup.

    Or put in the freezer in pint containers, use to cook rice, make gravy.

    Thank you for great recipes…

    • Tracey April 6, 2012, 6:25 AM

      another great option for cooking with home made stock, but with the convenience of "cubitos de caldo"… freeze your stock in ice cube trays! and then empty into zipper-style freezer bags for storage!

  • Sagrario April 1, 2011, 7:03 AM

    ¿Tía Clara sabías que República Dominicana es el país con mayor consumo per cápita de calditos? Ese dato me lo dió la empresa que comercializa la marca líder de calditos del país. Vale destacar que el consumo de caldos va en franca disminución por eso ahora las marcas se están empeñando en proveer opciones bajas en grasa, sodio, etc.

  • Wendy Carmona-Floren February 15, 2011, 2:58 PM

    I can only WISH I knew how to get the flavor I'm after without the sopita. I'm a bit of a health foods junkie and sopita just screams PROCESSED to me. But then when I cook without it, everything tastes like nothing to me. =[ I guess I'm going to have to adjust my taste buds.

    First time visiting this site. Me encanta. I used your Pollo Guisado recipe today as a startup and gave it my little twist (which included adding sopita…lol)

  • Nelly Rodriguez February 14, 2011, 7:52 PM

    Indeed, Dominicans use sopitas on a daily basis. I understand you coming from a family of picky eaters and all, but most of the Dominican families I know do use it, even when living in the States. Seems like more of a habit than a tradition though…

  • Amity February 7, 2011, 7:47 PM

    I do use them and when I can, make stock instead. Not so much bouillon, but I use Adobe and Sazon in different dishes.

  • Mari February 3, 2011, 4:17 PM

    Clara??? Where are you living? jajaja Yes bouillon cubes are used A LOT!! I use one cube in locrios, moros and beans, BUT I do my own season with fresh ingredients and add 2 bouillons there. This way the 2 or 3 spoons of seasoning I use on meat or anything else the sopita is not so over powering. I hope Clara doesn't mind por la cuña, I do recommend Doña Gallina brand, I believe it is less salty and greasy.

    • Aunt Clara February 3, 2011, 4:53 PM

      I guess coming from a family of picky eaters has its advantages. I thought we were the norm in that regard. :)

      I don't mind the cuña, I like it when people genuinely recommend products they like. I have little hope – or interest – of getting paid by sopita manufacturers. :)

  • Icelsa Mejia February 2, 2011, 7:01 PM

    I use them sometimes, use less salt in your cooking and you'll be ok but I rely on my sofrito to cook, I actually make my own chicken stock with some of the chicken parts that not everyone likes to eat like " neck, hear, etc. add some leftover onion, celery, cilantro, carrots. Roast your chicken pieces even bones and let it cook for about 2 hours and you have chicken stock, and freeze, same principle for beef stock.

  • Karina February 2, 2011, 6:09 PM

    On occasion I use Sazon but I like food to taste like what is meant to taste like, without too much salt, cubes and such are very overpowering, I don't even salt or add oil to my rice, especially if I'm adding beans on top.

    When it comes to chicken stock I prefer the low sodium organinc kind.

  • Aunt Clara February 2, 2011, 1:58 PM

    Besides my concern for artificial flavorings and sodium level, what strikes me the most is that, since I am not used to them, cubes overpower the flavors of the other ingredients. In the end fish and habichuelas taste all the same. :(

  • Ileana February 2, 2011, 12:40 PM

    I ALWAYS use sopita when I cook. specially with meats and moros. But since I use sopita, it gives me the opportunity not to use salt. at all. I'm Dominican born and raised, and I grew up with my family cooking with it, so I think it's something that's gonna stick around for a while.

  • Marlene February 2, 2011, 11:35 AM

    Cuando aprendi a cocinar, mi mama me enseno a ponerle sopita a todo. Cuando hago alguna comida dominicana todavia la uso pero trato de usar bastante sazon fresco y menos sopita (la mitad de lo que hubiera usado).

  • darina February 2, 2011, 11:31 AM

    I have been living in the USA for 16 yrs now, and yes I do also use 'sopitas'. That will be a very hard to break tradition, not to use any in my food.

  • Isabel February 2, 2011, 10:01 AM

    Yes we do use sopitas thats why maggi seasonings are so popular amogst the dominican culture. Thats why it surprised me that sometimes you guys used chicken stock, i've never seen my mother or grandmother or any of my 1001 aunts jajaja. But aside from that i've tried almost every recipe in your cookbook and they tasted amazing. I used dopitas for everything or atleast almost everything.

  • Ivette Hernandez February 2, 2011, 9:58 AM

    I normally used sopita but I don't added to much salt and most the time I have natural ingredients from the sofrito and that helps instead the sopita