Ingredients: annatto, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, cilantro
Sazon is pronounced "sa-zon" and means "seasoning" in Spanish.
Most Caribbean Hispanic recipes in this country call for a packet of either Goya or Knorr Sazon Seasoning. The problem with either of these brands of Sazon is that both contain MSG (both list this as the first ingredient), as well as yellow food coloring, red food coloring and something called Tricalcium Phosphate (Goya uses this one) or Silicon Dioxide (Knorr uses this one) - hmmm!
Like all of our seasoning blends, our Puerto Rican Sazon Seasoning does not include any MSG, food colorings, additives or anti-caking agents.
The Puerto Rican palate is unique in the Caribbean region. While rice and beans are considered a staple food like most of other Latin American cultures, Puerto Rican food is not near as spicy as its Caribbean neighbors Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.
While Puerto Rican cooking is often compared to Cuban, Mexican and Spanish cuisine, it’s actually a unique flavorful blend of African, Spanish, South American and Taino influences. Native ingredients and seasonings include apio (celery root), cacao, coriander, nispero (a yellowish to orange sweet, tart fruit) papaya, plantains and yampee (a cultivated yam species).
Island locals refer to their cuisine as "cocina criolla" (which translates to Creole cooking) and can be traced back to the Arawak and Taino, the indigenous people of the island, who flourished on a diet of corn, seafood and tropical fruit. The Spanish added beef, olive oil, pork, rice and wheat to the island's culinary landscape. The Spanish also brought over slaves from Africa to plant and harvest sugarcane. The slaves were soon growing okra and taro (a root vegetable that is baked, broiled or roasted) that came from their native continent for their own consumption. The various ethnic groups that would come to live on the island incorporated the eclectic collection of ingredients and flavors which would become the exotic blend that is today's Puerto Rican cuisine.
While not quite as prevalent in Puerto Rico as on other Caribbean islands, rice does play a key role as a staple ingredient and is served with just about all evening meals. Beans are usually served with rice, with the most common legumes being red beans or pigeon peas (called "gandules" in Puerto Rico). Either of these may be cooked with the rice or prepared by themselves and served on top of a dish or as a side. Black beans and garbanzos, while not as popular may also be served with rice. Puerto Rican rice often has a reddish yellow color, as cooks will add achiote (a mild spice that acts as a colorant).
Legumes have played a significant role in Puerto Rico's agriculture and diet from the early 1500s. Lima beans and African beans were early beans of choice, and in the 18th century pigeon peas became popular. More recently, lentils and garbanzo beans have gained wider acceptance.
Beans, Phaseolus, a genus in the family Fabaceae is native to the Americas, primarily Mexico. With beans’ strong influence on the islands cuisine, it naturally led to the creation of a “fondo de cocina” (translates to seasoning base or mix) used in cooking legumes to create a recognizable taste known in Puerto Rico as “sazón” (seasoning). In other Caribbean cuisines, this is referred to as a “sofrito.”
In Puerto Rico, there is not one right or wrong way to cook stewed beans. As with many regional dishes, the exact recipe varies from not only town to town, but family to family - with each believing that their version is the best. The individual preference for the ideal aroma, color and flavor of the dish is achieved by the cook adding ingredients to the dish at specific stages of the cooking process. In Puerto Rico, Sazon is still used to season braised and stewed dishes as well as other rice dishes, but it is most recognized for its use in preparing beans.
Emotional influences on many meals in Puerto Rico are driven by sensory, physiological and psychological pathways that are filled by the use of Sazon. It might best be called a "comfort" seasoning.
Sprinkle Sazon into Hispanic dishes that contain onions and peppers, such as rice and beans, fajitas and meat fillings for tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Sazon will enhance the flavor of your meal without adding heat.
Add to soups or stews to give them a more authentic Latin American flavor. This works nicely in dishes that are bean-based. Make sure to measure the Sazon when adding it to liquid-based dishes, as it tends to become more intense the longer that it cooks.
Use Sazon as a rub on beef, chicken, fish and pork before baking, grilling, roasting, sautéing or stir-firing.
Sazon pairs particularly well with steamed green vegetables, such as broccoli and green beans, and with starchy foods such as baked potatoes and French fries.
For those on a sodium restricted diet, use this salt free Sazon at the kitchen table as an alternative to salt and seasoning blends.
Discovered in 1908, MSG or monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Fans of MSG believe that it delivers the sought-after ‘umami’ taste. ‘Umami’ - which is often described as ‘savory’ - is associated with a “meaty” flavor. Umami is considered by some to be the 5th taste in addition to the basic four tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and MSG symptom complex symptoms which include - headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, heart palpitations, chest pains, nausea and weakness."
Researchers do report that a small percentage of the population may in fact have a short term reactions to MSG. Symptoms when they do occur are typically mild and don't require treatment. It is recommended that avoiding foods that contain MSG is the only way to prevent an MSG reaction.
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