Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What exactly is "Mojo"???

Well, I can't have a blog named Miami Mojo without giving you little background on mojo, along with a recipe or two. As I mentioned in the "About Me" section, "in Cuban cooking mojo applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil and a citrus juice, preferably sour oranges" aka naranja agrias. I can't say that I've personally made mojo, but I've watch countless times as my parents and in-laws have made it. I'm sure you can make it blindfolded, but since I'm always pressed for time, no blindfold for me, I buy it bottled and ready to go!

  • Mojo may be the pesto of the next decade, a very particular preparation that has morphed into many flavors and cuisines. The citrus in it makes it excellent to use for marinating. In Cuba they make it with sour orange and use it more as a marinade, especially for meats like pork. (Nation's Restaurant News)
Cuban Mojo Sauce
Recipe from: Cocina Cubana, Pascual Perez & Sonia Martinez

The authentic mojo is made with juice from sour oranges. It still has that little orangy taste, but its very acid and tart. You can come close by mixing equal amounts of freshly squeezed orange juice with lime juice (*).
If you live in areas with large concentration of Latinos you will probably find bottled Mojo (Goya brand makes one) or their produce department might have the slightly bumpy, thick skinned sour oranges. This recipe makes one cup.

1/3 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2/3 cup sour orange juice or lime juice(or equal portions orange juice and lime juice)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly toasted. Don't let it brown or it will be acrid tasting, just about 30 seconds should do it. Add the sour orange juice, cumin and salt and pepper. STAND BACK; the sauce may sputter. Bring to a rolling boil. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed, cool before serving. Mojo is best when served within a couple of hours of making, but it will keep for several days, well capped in a jar or bottle, in the refrigerator.
Use with Cuban sandwiches, boiled yuca, grilled seafood and meats, fried green plantain chips, etc.
I have seen recipes for mojo using cilantro in it, but that is not traditional to Cuban Cuisine.

(*) I prefer to add more lime juice than orange, as I like it very tart.

Mojo With Oil
Recipe from: Three Guys From Miami

3 heads garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups sour orange juice (In a pinch, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons oregano
1 cup Spanish olive oil

Mash garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in sour orange juice, onion, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.
In a saucepan, heat olive oil to medium hot (approximately 280 degrees F) and remove from heat. Carefully whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture (prepared above) until well blended.

Happy Mojo"ing" :)

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