While we were dating, my future husband introduced me to Mojo by presenting me with a bottle of the Badia brand. He grew up near Miami in Hialeah, Florida, where there is a strong Cuban influence on cuisine. He still remembers the aroma of abuelas cooking dinner wafting through the neighborhood. Mojo pork is one of his comfort foods, and he wanted to share it with me. I enjoyed it immensely.
I never thought about making my own Mojo until recently. Late last year, dear, sweet husband brought home a pork loin, not realizing we did not have a bottle on hand. So, I found a recipe for a Cuban style mojo at saveur.com and modified it very slightly for our loin. Once I had fresh oregano on hand, my conversion to fresh-made Mojo was complete.
By all accounts, Mojo, (pronounced mo ho) was invented in the Canary Islands, where it is a sauce made with red or green peppers—and sometimes cilantro—eaten over meat or potatoes. Cuba adapted the sauce to their own use, and this Cuban variation is a peppy marriage of garlic, olive oil and citrus. Slow-cooked pork that has been marinated in Mojo will truly delight. I’ve discovered a red cabbage slaw made with Mojo, too. Delish! Just to push this Mojo to the height of its versatility, it’s an excellent marinade for portobello mushrooms—for a vegan dish that feels meaty on the mouth and is packed with flavor.
Preparing a fresh Mojo marinade makes the dish even more satisfying. There is so much flavor in my fresh-made version I can’t bring myself to use store-bought anymore. Hubby says it’s “legit” and won’t hear of the bottled version either. If you don’t feel like making Mojo from scratch, by all means try a bottle version, but this is so quick and easy to make, and so wonderful delicious, why buy?
“Lou loved watching Al savor every bite. She mentally vowed to make him an amazing meal just to see him enjoy it. Maybe her Cuban pork with black beans and cilantro rice. That was a great summer feast—complete with mojitos and mojo sauce. If he savored a burger with such fervor, he’d swoon over her cooking.”― Amy E. Reichert
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
12 garlic cloves
1/4 C lime juice (about two medium limes)
1/4 C orange juice (about half a large orange)
1/4 C olive oil
Total prep time: about 15 minutes Yields: about 1 1/2 cups
Using molcajete (mortar and pestle) grind salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and garlic moving from dry to wet.
Transfer to small bowl, add liquid ingredients, and mix well.
Use as a marinade pork loin, beef or poultry. Also great with beefy mushrooms, like portobello. Use as a dressing for a slaw or salad.