This mojo picon rojo recipe is an easy to make version of a traditional Canarian mojo rojo, a red sauce from the Canary Islands in Spain. It can be served on potatoes or with grilled or roasted meat or fish.
**This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What Is Mojo Picón
We’ve developed a significant sauce addiction over the years. None more so than our addiction to mojo picon. The perfect blend of tangy, spicy, and garlic, mojo picon was one of many delicious food discoveries we made during our trips to the Canary Islands when living in Spain.
Mojo picon is the traditional red sauce used on another quintessential dish from the Canary Islands, papas arrugadas.
Although it’s not uncommon in the Canary Islands to be served fresh bread and mojo picon at the beginning of a meal. While mojo picon is primarily associated with papas arrugadas, it works nicely on grilled meat and fish. By the end of our trip to the Canary Islands, we were putting mojo on everything.
What separates mojo picon from other versions including mojo verde, and green mojo, is the use of dried Canarian peppers.
The peppers are somewhat mild but can occasionally be hot. It’s these peppers that give mojo picon a bit more kick compared to the other Mojos.
Traditional Mojo Picón Rojo Canario
Traditionally, mojo picon relies on dried Canarian peppers, which are virtually impossible to find outside of the islands. They are even difficult to find in mainland Spain.
Any sort of dried, red spicy pepper can be used for mojo picón, including dried cayenne peppers. When using dried peppers, you must reconstitute the peppers by soaking them in hot water for at least an hour.
We learned to make mojo sauce, by hand, the traditional way when in Tenerife. The traditional way involves using a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients.
Pro Tip: There’s a temptation to use a food processor. In all fairness, don’t. While quicker, a food processor will blend the ingredients too finely. You’ll want a little “chunkiness” with the mojo sauce. Take the time and use a mortar and pestle.
So, a traditional mojo recipe will be made with dried peppers that are reconstituted and then blended with olive oil and other ingredients with a mortar and pestle. But, there is an easier way.
Easy Mojo Rojo Canario
When traveling in the Canary Islands, I picked up a little mojo recipe book. Yes, there are enough different mojo recipes that it’s possible to have a mini-cookbook.
The recipes are traditional and written in Spanish. I always end up using them as a guide and kind of doing my own thing. One of the recipes actually measures olive oil as a small cup used for coffee. Hardly standardizes.
This is a modified and more easy mojo rojo recipe. I still rely on the mojo recipe book I picked up in the Canary Islands, but I modify it to include easily found ingredients.
I just can’t find the right dried peppers in Ireland and it’s been hard to find them in the US as well, depending on where you live. Instead, this mojo picon recipe includes fresh red peppers as an alternative. With this in mind, it’s time to learn how to make a mojo sauce.
Mojo Picón Ingredients
If you are not using dried Canarian chili peppers, then red peppers are a good alternative. I like to use red Spanish peppers, which are longer than traditional capsicum red peppers. Either is sufficient. We’ve tried serrano peppers, but they didn’t work as well.
The peppers should be de-seeded and cut into pieces. They don’t need to be diced small, but the smaller they are the easier it will be to blend the peppers into the sauce.
Garlic cloves form the other base. They should be minced or pressed. I prefer to press the garlic using a garlic press so it blends better and there are no big chunks of garlic.
Two cloves should be sufficient. Because the garlic is not cooked for this mojo rojo recipe, it can be pretty strong. You can always add another clove after if you want more of a kick.
The peppers and garlic are seasoned with salt (rock salt or Kosher salt) and cumin seeds. If you don’t have cumin seeds, ground cumin will work too.
All of these ingredients are blended. Olive oil and red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar are added to make the mojo sauce recipe.
A quick note on olive oil. All olive oils are not created equal. It should come as no surprise that cheap olive oil isn’t going to taste as well as higher-quality olive oil. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good bottle of Spanish olive oil. Good olive oil can make or break a recipe, especially one like this.
How To Make This Mojo Picon Recipe
Add the red peppers, garlic, salt, and ground cumin to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and one tablespoon of red wine vinegar and blend until pureed.
Taste the mojo and add more vinegar if needed. It should be tangy and acidic, but not overly so. If you want a little more heat, add another clove of garlic. If it needs a little more liquid, add a bit of olive oil.
Refrigerate the mojo until ready to serve. It can be kept in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- 2 red peppers, de-seeded and cut into pieces (see notes above)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Add the red peppers, garlic, salt, and ground cumin to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add the olive oil and one tablespoon of red wine vinegar and blend until pureed.
- Taste the mojo and add more vinegar if needed. It should be tangy and acidic, but not overly so.
Traditional mojo picon is made with dried Canarian peppers. This easy mojo rojo uses fresh red peppers. See the notes in the recipe above for more details.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
How To Serve Mojo Picon Canario
Our favorite way to serve this sauce is to make papas con mojo or Canarian wrinkled potatoes. We rotate between mojo rojo and mojo verde, the green version of this sauce. I don’t know if I have a preference.
We often make the mojo sauce based on what extra pepper we have lying around. Sometimes, we will make both and use both on potatoes. Mojo Rojo sauce, though, can be served with all sorts of grilled or roasted meats or even fish.
What about wine and mojo rojo? We’ve found that mojo rojo holds up really well with red wine, especially red wine from Rioja. Despite the pungent nature of mojo sauce, due to garlic, most Spanish red wines will pair well.
FAQs – Canarian Mojo Recipe
Mojo sauce is traditionally tangier than it is spicy. That said, it’s not impossible to make mojo sauce spicy. All you need to do is add either cayenne or crushed red pepper.
Spanish mojo sauce is a traditional red or green sauce from the Canary Islands. Its signature flavor is that of citrus mixed with garlic, not spicy.
Yes, red peppers are low in saturated fat. In fact, red peppers are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals. Medical studies have equated red peppers with lowering cholesterol and other health benefits.