Mojo Rojo

OK, I owe you a Sunday Green Board. This will have to do for now. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Today’s treat was inspired by two things: a random memory of an old friend now living in Lanzarote (Hiya Joe!!!) and the opportunity for cheap, cheap airfare to Barcelona. It’s a wonderfully piquant sauce / condiment called either mojo picon or mojo rojo — essentially a vinaigrette flavored with garlic and chile peppers, similar in nature to a romesco sauce.

Whether you call it picon or rojo depends upon on the heat of the peppers you use … more heat means picon, less means rojo. I like to use dried pasilla chiles; they’re spicy, but not overwhelming, and their pleasant smokiness underscores the paprika, so mine’s a mojo rojo. If I used something with more heat, I’d call it mojo picon. It doesn’t really matter; there are dozens and dozens of extremely similar sauces out there, and in the end, what you call it is an order of magnitude less important than how it tastes.

We use the mojo rojo on boiled potatoes here (papas arrugadas to be precise), but it’s awesome on random veggies and meats, and absolutely stunning on scrambled eggs. Use it anywhere that needs a punch of spice without the overwhelming heat of a hot sauce. For something slightly more sophisticated, substitute it for Frank’s RedHot when you make Buffalo wings.

Mojo Rojo

Mojo Rojo on papas arrugadas with seared flank steak ... what a crappy picture, eh?

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled (and degermed if needed)
  • 3 pasilla chiles, rehydrated, stems removed, or any other dried chile peppers you may like
  • 1 teaspoon good paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, the best you can get
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, the best you can get, again
  1. Boil some water in a kettle or pot, remove from heat, and add the chile peppers. Cover with a pot or bowl to keep them submerged, and steep for 45 minutes or more to rehydrate them. After they’ve steeped, cut out the stems and scrape out most of the seeds.
  2. Combine everything but the olive oil into a food processor or blender and pulverize into a paste. If you’re using a food processor, drizzle in the oil while pulsing to form an emulsion, as you would with a mayonnaise or vinaigrette. If using a blender, add the oil and emulsify.
  3. Taste, adjust the salt content, and savor.

Refrigerate the unused portion, but bring to room temperature before serving.

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