Get Your Mojo (Sauce) On
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.
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.
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 10 garlic cloves, minced. (You could use as few as 6 and 8, but I like mucho garlic and process mine in a mini food processor.)
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ½ cup lime juice
- ¾ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
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
What is your version of classic Cuban mojo criollo? What do you like putting mojo sauce on?