What is Sazón?
Sazón is a seasoning used in Spanish and Latin cultures to add color and flavor to their foods. It is proven that foods with vibrant colors look more enticing and palatable. This is why the Latin culture has adapted using sazón in almost all of their recipes.
What is Sazón made with?
Sazón is mainly made with Annatto which translates to Achiote in Spanish. Annatto is obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit. Sometimes also called annatto seeds. The color is extracted by heating the seed in oil or water. In sazón, annatto is used in its powdered form, blended with other spices like cumin, coriander, oregano, and sometimes salt.
What does the word sazón mean?
The word Sazón is the Spanish word for flavor. Many times it also refers to seasoning, or to season (e.g. To season the meat). As you can see the sazón seasoning got its name while referring to the seasoning of the food in order to give it flavor.
How do you use a Sazón Seasoning?
Sazón is used in rice, stews, to marinate meats and more. With sazón you can make a bland piece of chicken, delicious and appetizing. You can add it to your favorite recipe to bring out the color in your rice, soups, stews, and to enhance the flavor of your foods. To use, follow the directions on the packaging. Most times sazón is used 1-2 teaspoons per every 3-4 servings.
What Can I Use Instead of Sazón Seasoning?
Sazón is typically used to add an orange/yellow color to foods. Instead of sazón seasoning you can use ground annatto, oil of annatto (recipe below), ground turmeric, and with it add various spices like coriander, garlic, and cumin to your foods.
How To Make Homemade Sazón Seasoning Mix
To make homemade sazón seasoning you will need ground annatto which is the key ingredient. With that you can add turmeric for its health benefits and bright orange color. You can also add spices like cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. I would recommend experimenting with the recipe until you get the right amount of color and flavor that pleases your tastebuds. Below I’ll share a DIY (do it yourself) recipe to get you started.
DIY Puerto Rican Sazón Recipe
- 2 tablespoons ground annatto (achiote molido)
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric (cúrcuma)
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic (ajo)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (comino)
- Black pepper
In a small bowl or container, blend all the ingredients together. Place in a labeled shaker to use as needed.
How to Make “Aceite De Achiote” (Oil Of Annatto)
As I’m speaking of sazón I think it is important to also mention how achiote (annatto) initially was incorporated into our Latin cuisine. As I mentioned before, the primary use for annatto and sazón is for it’s color. The color is extracted by heating the annatto seeds in oil or water. I remember my mom making big batches of the oil of annatto, and kept it in glass jars to use as needed.
Oil of annatto is used as a base when cooking “arroz junto” meaning our yellow rice which includes other ingredients like beans, meats, and vegetables. You’ve probably heard of “Arroz con Pollo” or Puerto Rican’s famous “Arroz con Gandules”. Both recipes include oil of annatto or sazón, or both! Now let’s move on to teach you how to make it, and how to use it.
DIY “Aceite de Achiote” (oil of annatto) Recipe
- Annatto seeds
- Oil of choice
- In this case you can use any type of oil you cook with. Many times in Latin cuisine, lard is used as the fat of choice.
- Healthy oil options include, avocado oil, and refined coconut oil.
Add 1 cup of annatto seeds per every 2 cups of oil in a pot. Bring the oil to a boil, and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool and strain the oil into a glass jar. If desired, you can save the annatto seeds for another time as you can use the same seeds twice.
How to use “Aceite de Achiote” (oil of annatto)
You can use oil of annatto in place of plain oil when cooking rice, beans, stews, and to marinate meats. In Puerto Rican cuisine, oil of annatto is used to stir fry the sofrito used in most recipes. Oil of annatto is also used in the “masa” dough used to make Puerto Rican fritters like “Alcapurrias and Empanadillas” to give the dough it’s orange/yellow color. Most of the time the oil of annatto is used 1-2 tablespoon at a time. It all depends on what you are cooking.
Here’s a quick recipe in which you can use oil of annatto
“Arroz a la jardinera” (Rice with vegetables)
- 2 tablespoons oil of annatto
- 2 tablespoons of fresh sofrito
- 1-2 teaspoons of sazón (DIY or our delicious Healthy Rican Sazón)
- 1 bouillon cube (or 3 cups of chicken broth)
- 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (or 1 can of mixed vegetables)
- 3 cups of rice (preferably medium grain or jasmine rice)
- 3 cups of water, ONLY if using the bouillon cube
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot or “caldero”, add the oil of annatto to high heat.
- Add the sofrito and stir fry until it releases its aroma.
- Add the sazón and bouillon cube (if using) until it’s dissolved into the sofrito.
- Immediately add a bit of the water (if using the bouillon cube), or a bit of the broth. This is to make sure the sofrito doesn’t burn or stick to the pot.
- Add the mixed vegetables and rice, and stir well.
- Add the water, or chicken broth if using.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste. Try the liquid and make sure it’s to your liking. Please note that the liquid should be on the salty side, as the rice will absorb the majority of the flavor.
- Stir and allow to boil until the water/broth slightly disappears.
- Stir again, cover, and set to low heat.
- Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. The time will depend on what kind of rice you used.
- Stir in between to make sure the rice doesn’t stick too much from the bottom. Unless you like “el pegao” which is the rice that burns to the bottom of the pot which will turn out golden, and nice and crunchy.
Note: If you are using long grain or brown rice, you may need to add more water. Please read the package to make sure you have the correct amount of water per rice ratio.
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