Get Your Mojo (Sauce) On

mojo sauce

from Serious Eats. Click image for recipe.

lawry's havana garlic and lime sauceI turned the grocery store aisle and stopped my cart short because I spotted a bottled Havana Garlic and Lime marinade. In other words, mojo ready to go by Lawry’s.

Interesting. I had not seen it before.

So then, no kidding, I’m a few aisles down and I spot Cuban style mojo by World Harbor.

OK, interesting, again.

Bottled mojo (pronounced mo-ho) isn’t new, but I’ve never seen it outside of the Hispanic foods section of my local grocery. And I had not noticed either brand before this week. (I live in Tennessee, do we remember that?)

I didn’t buy either choice because I make my own, but after looking at the ingredients in both bottles, I came home to look at the simple recipe I use — one cobbled together from family methods and I looked in the near-dozen cookbooks I own that have their own version of basic mojo.

cuban style mojo by World Harbor None of the recipes I looked at is exactly the same. Not one! So much for classic!

I am imagining now that there are a bazillion mojo recipes out there, with each cook adding and subtracting ingredients based on family tradition and personal taste. I can hear the arguments over which method is better, whether mas limón, o menos sal is best. And ay, can you hear the discussion about whether garlic should be minced, sliced or crushed?

The basics I saw over and over are olive oil, onion, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, (or sour orange juice if you can get it), salt and pepper. Then, the options include oregano, grapefruit juice, sherry wine, vinegar, and even crushed bay leaf.

There’s a version in The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen I want to try that uses cilantro, serrano pepper and white wine vinegar. And Douglas Rodriguez has two pages of fancy mojos like Papaya, Rosemary and Garlic and Spicy Sage and Garlic-Pineapple mojos in his book, Nuevo Latino.

If you don’t already know, mojo’s are Spanish-created in the Canary Islands and greatly adapted and used in the Caribbean. In Cuba, it is basically a staple sauce for roast pork and yuca (cassava) dishes. I like mine on fried plantains (tostones) and white fish. It isn’t a salsa, it is a marinade, a vinaigrette, a sauce.

In my mojo version, I have nixed the diced onion if I am using it at table instead of for roasting a lechon. And I use cumin because I love it so much. And, though I have Nitza Villapol’s classic Cuban Cookbook and titles such as Memories of a Cuban Kitchenby Mary Urrutia Randleman and ¡Sabor! by Ana Quincoces Rodriguez, I mostly stick to a tweaked version from The Joy of Cooking. Is that heresy, not using a Cuban cookbook recipe?

OK, so, I am going to share my mojo recipe and you share yours, si?

Tweaked Cuban Mojo Recipe

adapted from a million places and a hundred tries.

Heat the olive oil under medium heat.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Careful not to brown or burn it.
Stir in the juices, cumin and salt.
Bring it all to a boil and quickly remove from the heat.
Serve at room temperature.

* A note about bottled sour orange juice available in the Hispanic foods section of most groceries. Yes, you could use that, but no real need. Lime juice and orange juice in a 1 to 1 formula (or to taste) will work just as well, or better. If you can find a real Seville orange (naranja agria) use that.

The mojo can be kept covered in the refrigerator for three days to a week, depending on which version of the mojo truth you believe.

If you’ve never made mojo, try it. It is very easy. And if you make it for non-Latin friends, they’ll forever love you for introducing them to that Cuban Moe-Joe Sauce. Seriously.

Mas Mojo Marinade

Classic Cuban mojo from Food & Wine.
Three Guys from Miami have a version that makes enough mojo for roasting a pig.

Y Tu?

What is your version of classic Cuban mojo criollo? What do you like putting mojo sauce on?


Share, por favor!

By Carrie on August 4, 2011 · Posted in food, headline

14 Comments | Post Comment

Lisa Quinones-Fontanez says:

LOVE Mojo – on tostones with queso blanco, over rice, over chicken, chops or steak. On pretty much anything…you can’t go wrong.

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Bren says:

what!??! cuban-style mojo in TN!?!?! que locura. but fun locura!! i love it. as you know, yes, we use it on everything… from carne asada (won’t insert link here though i do want you to see it!) to pollo and everything in between…. cuando estoy lazy…. the big ol’ plastic bottle by goya has is my go to. But of course, homemade is always the best! Interested in this: “mojos like Papaya, Rosemary and Garlic and Spicy Sage and Garlic-Pineapple mojos in his book, Nuevo Latino” ;)

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Carrie says:

Girl, I have made gallons to roast pigs. I love that lime and garlic smell! Ay! I wish people knew how easy it is.

I can send you a copy of the page from Nuevo Latino…just didn’t want to get spanked for copying a recipe! LOL

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Carrie says:

Lisa, never had it with queso blanco! I am going to try it.

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Uchi says:

mmm. sounds great..! thanks for sharing!

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Bonnie at Sweet Life says:

YUMMY!! great recipe, I love mojo, really versatile and can give great flavor to any protein. thanks Carrie!!

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Bonnie at Sweet Life says:

Love mojo,so yummy and easy to work with. Mojo can add great flavor to any protein, thanks for sharing!

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Carrie says:

Any Tex-Mex equivalent?

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Presley's Pantry says:

I love mojo sauce on most proteins. :) going to have to give this recipe a spin. :)

Posted on August 5th, 2011

Julie Diaz Asper says:

I do a simple garlic ( 1 clove), lime (1 squeezed), olive oil (1/4 cup) and salt to taste version. Good on almost anything except dessert. So mojo can be the new salsa! love it..

Posted on August 5th, 2011

Joscelyn @ says:

I am going to use this on my Cuban father! Thanks for the recipe mix. (Submitted this to StumbleUpon too.) :)

Posted on August 5th, 2011

Maura at The Other Side of The Tortilla says:

Ay, Carrie! You know how much I love mojo. I have a version of Mexican mojo de ajo that I’ll be posting soon on my site. But I love Cuban food and my favorite way to eat mojo is on fried yuca! Totally going to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing and when I post my recipe, I’ll send you a link to see–it’s not as bright and fresh-garlic tasting as yours because mine is roasted. And for what it’s worth, the World Harbors mojo is not bad. I’ve used it for chicken and was happy enough to say I’d buy it again when I’m feeling too lazy to cook and looking for a shortcut.

Posted on August 6th, 2011

The Wise Latina Club says:

I laughed at the mojo tiki tiki: mas/menos limon, sal, ay (apologies for lack of proper castellano punctuation. I’m on Mami’s laptop–non Mac–and I don’t know how to use the keyboard)!!! I love how you’ve added cumin b.c I dash this spice on everything–very creative, adds kick and smokiness to the traditional mojo sauce. Brill, dahling, brillllll!

Posted on August 7th, 2011

marcela says:

yummy! I have to try this! tostones sound really good right now!

Posted on August 9th, 2011