September 2, 2015

Cuban Mojo

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Mojo puts the magic in Cuban cuisine. Delightfully garlicky and citrusy, mojo is the signature sauce of Cuba. You can use it as a sauce (drizzled over seafood, chicken or starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, plantains or yuca) or as a marinade (particularly for pork). It does double duty in the classic Cuban shredded beef dish, Vaca Frita. Plan to make mojo the day before, as the flavours really bloom overnight.

8 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
1/3 cup (75 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried oregano
1/3 cup (75 mL) each: orange juice, lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In small pan, mash together garlic, salt and cumin into paste, using fork. Add oil and oregano. Heat on medium-low 2 minutes, or until garlic starts to sizzle. (Do not brown.)

Remove from heat. Stir in juices. Grind in pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Use immediately. Or transfer to storage tub, cover and refrigerate up to 1 week. Before using, return to room temperature and whisk to combine.

Makes 1 cup (250 mL). 

       Roast pork drizzled with mojo. Credit: Susan Sampson


Tool Time: Classic Cuban Mojo makers swear by a mortar and pestle, but I cheat with a garlic press. Mincing the garlic with a knife won’t do the trick. It must be puréed. A kitchen rasp (Microplane) will also work.

S is for Sour Oranges: Authentic mojo is made with the juice of dimpled, thick-skinned sour oranges (also known as Seville, bigarade, bitter or marmalade oranges). They are hard to find in my area. Out of season, I substitute freshly squeezed orange and lime juices. Do not even think of using bottled juices.