The Canary Islands ‘Mojos’

The Canary Islands 'Mojos' |
If you’re one of the nearly 10 million visitors travelling to the Canary Islands each year, there is a good chance that you’ve heard of mojos before. Indeed, it’s very likely that you’ve even tried them.

Mojos are the most popular speciality of the traditional Canarian cuisine. The ‘Mojo Picón’ (spicy mojo) is perhaps the most popular, but only one of the many varieties that are produced in the islands.

We can describe a ‘mojo’ as a light sauce of gelatinous consistency made with a blend of crushed species, one or more liquid components (could be oil, water, stock…) and some extra fresh ingredients such as tomato or avocado, used to add both flavour and texture to the mixture.

Whether you sit down in a restaurant by the sea or in a typical Canarian ‘guachinche’, you’ll most likely be served either green or red mojo. If you’re a bit lucky you might be served both. Perhaps surprising the first time around, you’ll come to expect those little sauce boats with every meal.

So what’s the difference between the red and the green mojos? As a general rule of thumb, the green mojo is used for fish-based recipes and it’s usually made with parsley, although a very common variation uses coriander instead (Mojo de Cilantro). Red mojo is eaten with meat and its main ingredient is paprika. Of course there is also the popular ‘Mojo Picón’, which is another type of red mojo made with ‘pimienta picona’, a small red chilli original from La Palma.

Other than that, both the green and the red can be perfectly served as a starter together with some traditional wrinkly potatoes (papas arrugadas)  – check our recipe here – or simply with a bread roll that we’ll use to dip into the sauce.

There are also less known varieties that make use of autochtone cheeses to make the delicious ‘mojos de queso’. The best example is perhaps the almogrote, a much thicker type of mojo that can be spread on bread and it’s original from La Gomera.

One more last thing… Contrary to popular believe, red mojo doesn’t need to be spicy. For the same reason that spicy mojo doesn’t need to be red. At the end of the day, the level of spiciness has little to do with the colour and lots to do with how much hot chilli we add when making the sauce!