Chef Reina Gascón-López’s Go-To Box
3 Single Origin Spices
Chef Reina Gascón-López of The Sofrito Project curated her go-to spices to make a few of her favorite recipes. She used these 3 spices to make trifongo, which is a beloved dish in Puerto Rico. This dish is a combination of smashed fried green plantains, fried sweet plantains, and boiled yuca, similar to mofongo. Growing up, her mother would make this dish since it was easier to find more yuca than it was plantains in Charleston. The yuca tends to stretch out the batch and the cooking method is exactly the same as mofongo. Try her Trifongo con Caldo recipe, which is such a great remix on a classic and nostalgic dish.
About Chef Reina Gascón-López
In 2017, Reina Gascon-Lopez started The Sofrito Project to share her love of cooking with friends and family. As a Puerto Rican raised in the South, Reina explores both her multiracial background and cultures through food and writing. Cooking elevated homestyle and comfort foods, Reina’s recipes are good enough to make her grandmother proud and fancy enough to serve to company. Bridging the cultures of her Afro-Caribbean, Latin, and Southern upbringing allows for creativity in the kitchen with her flavorful and delicious recipes and digital cookbooks that her readers enjoy.
Reina currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. When she’s not busy cooking in the kitchen, she enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, gardening, collecting cookbooks, and scouring the internet for fan theories about her favorite movies and TV shows.
- Late Harvest Black Peppercorns
- Wild Black Cumin Seeds
- Pimentón De La Vera – Smoked Spanish Paprika
Known as “black gold,” peppercorns are one of Vietnam’s largest exports. Berries are often picked green to prevent insects and birds from eating mature fruit, but ours are vine-ripened an extra two weeks under the careful watch of our farmers—a ruby-red hue signals peak fruity and floral notes, as well as a smooth, lingering heat. We source from farms in Quang Tri, where Roots of Peace trains villagers to replace live minefields—more bombs were dropped in this province than in WWI and WWII combined—with this flourishing crop.
In the steep and jagged Hindu Kush Mountants of Afghanistan, a rare and ancient varietal of cumin—a botanical cousin to the common variety—grows wildly, and according to Milkstreet, black cumin derives its extra warmth and pungency from its “native terroir.” Local villagers handpick these highly climate-resilient seeds, rarely seen outside of local communities until recently, by hand and dry them under the blistering Afghan sun to concentrate flavors even more. We work with Roots of Peace, an organization that helps the communities of war-torn areas prosper through agricultural export.
For over a century our partner farm has been cultivating ñora peppers for pimentón in Extremadura, Spain, a storied region dubbed the “Spanish Wild West” for its high concentration of Old World conquistadors. Picked at peak autumnal ripeness, the peppers are smoked over oak wood for two weeks, during which the farmer turns over the fruit by hand once daily. Milling is equally unhurried—the smoked peppers are slowly stone-ground to maintain sweetness (metal grinders can burn and bitter). Our pimentón has the Denominacion de Origen, a prestigious distinction for Spain’s finest agricultural provisions.
How old are these spices?
We purchase what we need every year right after the spices are harvested. These spices are as fresh as you can get. They are not sitting in a warehouse for multiple years. The oldest spices we carry will be one year old compared to the commodity market which warehouses spices for 10+ years before selling them to you.
Are these blends certified organic?
Unfortunately we do not have any certifications at this time but most of our spices are organically grown and all of them are non gmo. Each ingredient can be traced back to its origin. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.