Monday, 21 June 2021 11:03

The Many Mojos And How to Majar Them

Red mojo or green mojo? 

This is always the most answered question on our Facebook page and the red version is slightly more popular. This is probably because it comes on the papas arrugadas (wrinkly popes as they are sometimes translated on local menus). Somehow, red and green are the only two mojo variations that make it onto restaurant tables. But there is far more to mojo than a binary choice.

From red and green to almond and avocado

Almond mojo is made from garlic, pimentón and peeled almonds pounded with olive oil in a pestle ands mortar. In La Palma they add smoked cheese to green mojo, in El Hierro fresh cheese to red mojo. In La Gomera they add hard cheese to the mojo and and call it almogrote.

Then there's the superb but rarely made mojo de aguacate based on avocado, herbs, green chili and cumin. Even with the standard red and green versions, every family has their own mojo recipes. 

Oregano in the green? Parsley! What about tomato in the red? Roasted tomato! Are you crazy? That is not traditional! It is in my village! 

The only thing people can agree on is that the best version is made by their gran. 

 The truth is that mojo isn't about the exact amount of chili, spice or vinegar in the mix. It's about the effort you put into mixing it. 

Throw all the ingredients into a blender and after a good blitz you get a passable mojo. But for a great sauce use a big, stone pestle-and-mortar and spend a good 15 minutes majando el mojo; grinding everything together as you gradually add the oil. The constant mixing emulsifies the oil and garlic and really gets the chili and spices infused. Mojo that is majado looks different too; thicker and textured rather than runny and homogenous. Like lava rather than ketchup.

To make an ever richer mojo, add avocado... 

Avocados and the Canary Islands

Avocadoes are from Central and South America and arrived in the Canary Islands centuries ago. Canarians were eating them in salads long before the brunch revolution made them a supermarket staple. As a kid I had avocado and jamon Serrano bocadillos for school lunch. 

So mojo de aguacate isn't just a reworking of guacamole to hitch Canarian food to the avo bandwagon. It's a bona fide Canary Islands recipe made by local grannies for generations.

It's also delicious!

 Mojo de aguacate: The recipe

I'd like to say that this is my gran's mojo de aguacate recipe but she was from Liverpool. Nana made a mean apple pie but never really dabbled with garlic and only ate avocadoes halved with Worcestershire sauce in the hole.

So instead this is my mojo de aguacte recipe honed during the lockdown and tested on two fussy kids.

You need...

  • A large avocado (a ripe Haas variety with the crinkled skin is best; check ripeness by wiggling the stump of the stalk. If it falls off easily, the avocado is ripe).
  • A mixed bunch of coriander and parsley (one or the other is fine too)
  • 1 large clove of raw garlic
  • 100 ml olive oil (a light extra virgin oil is best)
  • 25 ml of red wine vinegar
  • Teaspoon of coarse salt (the coarser the better for the majada).
  • Teaspoon cumin (lightly toasted to bring out the flavour)
  • One spicy green chili like a Habañero or a Thai chili (to taste)
  • Lemon juice

Remove the avocado flesh and chop roughly. Chop up the parsley and coriander. Grind the remaining ingredients in a pestle and mortar (blender on pulse mode if you must) as you add the oil. Add the avocado and herbs and mix into a rough paste. There's no need to grind the herbs but it helps to bash them a bit to get ther flavours out. 

Add a squirt of lemon juice to stop the surface from browning (especially if storing for later). 

Serve as a dip with veggies, or as a dressing for fish.

May the mojo be with you!

Published in Members Only

Mojo is the big star of Canary Islands cuisine and the dish that visitors always rave about. But where is it from originally? Our research shows that mojo is a tasty sauce with a fascinating history that spans three continents and thousands of years. 

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Tip of the day

  • The Parafarmacia In Gran Canaria Is Not A Chemist!
    The Parafarmacia In Gran Canaria Is Not A Chemist!

    If there is one thing we hate it is visitors being tricked in Gran Canaria. In the past we've warned about overcharging at Gran Canaria chemists, and rip off electronics shops in resorts. 

    In this Tip Of The Day we return to the island's chemists or rather, to the island's fake chemists.

    A chemist in Gran Canaria is called a Farmacia and always has a green cross sign. Farmacias are the only place tobuy medicine in Spain, even basics like paracetamol.

    However, there is another kind of shop in Gran Canaria that looks and sounds like a chemist but doesn't sell medicine. This is the Parafarmacia and it also uses a green cross sign.

    A parafarmacia is a herbal medicine shop that is not allowed to sell any normal medicine such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or antibiotics. 

    Instead, parafarmacias sell herbal alternatives to medicine but don't have to prove that they work and they can charge whatever they want.

    We recently heard from a visitor to Gran Canaria who went into a parafarmacia and was charged 40 euros for a herbal alternative to Ibuprofen. It was only when they read the label that they realised what had happened. 

    To locate a genuine farmacia, see this website and search within your municipio (Puerto Rico is in Mogán, Playa del Inglés is in San Bartolomé de Tirajana). At weekends and on fiesta days many farmacias close but there is always one open, known as the farmacia de guardia, in each municipio.

    Search for the nearest one to you with this tool

    Lex Says: To keep costs down, see this article for the way to ask for generic medicine rather than expensive branded alternatives. 

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