A Mojo sauce is a simple but flavorful Cuban tradition. We use this mojo recipe in my house to bring fresh flavor to grilled fish and meats and roasts. But this healthy sauce can also be used to brighten the flavors of vegetarian dishes. Best of all, it can be made in under 10 minutes with simple, fresh ingredients.
What is Cuban Mojo sauce?
Mojo is a bright and acidic sauce originating in the Canary Islands. Originally there were two types of mojo, mojo rojo, or red mojo sauce and mojo verde sauce, which is green mojo sauce. But as this marinade spread throughout the Caribbean, each region put its own spin on the concept.
Traditionally, a Cuban mojo recipe is one that features garlic and sour orange. It historically would use pork fat. (Many modern versions call for olive oil instead.) But my lightened up Cuban mojo marinade simply features the combination of fresh citrus, garlic and herbs with no added fat. The result is a healthy, immunity-boosting citrus sauce great with roasting and grilling.
A Mojo recipe with immunity-boosting powers
Like a classic mojo verde, this one features a base of freshly squeezed sour orange. A good Cuban mojo will begin with the juice of oranges that are notably tart. Where I live in Southern California, oranges tend to offer more sweetness than tart flavors.
So to make up for the lack of bite in the orange, I balance my tangy orange base with the juice of fresh lemons and limes. (If you can find good sour oranges, you can use it in place of the lemon and lime.) And then to the citrus marinade base, I add raw garlic, as a classic recipe would.
What makes this Cuban sauce healthy?
Why do I call this marinade recipe an immunity-boosting sauce? It’s the high content of fresh citrus juices that makes this sauce my pick for a health-boosting dinner accompaniment. That’s because citrus fruits offer a good source of vitamin C. And vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. (White blood cells are key to fighting infection.)
Of course, you might be wondering if the vitamin C you’re getting from this sauce is enough to support your immune system. Well, an average orange has about 130% of your daily vitamin C. So if you’re sharing this sauce with friends, it’s fair to say that a single serving is giving you around 50% of your daily intake. Not bad for a sauce!
The immunity-boosting power of garlic
And then there’s the garlic, one of our favorite aphrodisiac ingredients. You have probably heard that garlic is good for your health. It’s true!
In fact, garlic is associated with boosting immune function and in studies, shows promise in fighting cold and flu viruses. However, it’s also known that the process of cooking garlic can kill these beneficial properties.
That’s why this recipe is a star. If you use this recipe for mojo sauce as a finishing sauce or dip, the raw garlic still has the full potential to boost health. Of course, studies on garlic’s powers are limited and it appears most likely to help as an immunity booster, not as a cure when you’re sick. But I say, if you feel it works for you, do it.
Ingredients and equipment to make my mojo marinade recipe
The best thing about this Cuban sauce recipe is that it’s one of the easiest dips or marinades you can make. All you need is a bowl and a whisk to assemble this versatile sauce. (You will need a cutting board and a good knife to chop the garlic and herbs.)
Some recipes call for crushing the garlic for a mojo with a mortar and pestle. You can prepare it this way if you want but I like the texture and the ease of just using finely chopped garlic in my mojo verde marinade. If you are going to use one, I really like using a marble set like this one, for crushing garlic.
As for the ingredients, they’re all common, grocery store produce, easy to find year-round. As I noted earlier, I use a combination of sweet orange with tart lemon juice. The key is always great, fresh ingredients. But as long as you have good ingredients at your fingertips, this garlic mojo makes a great go-to sauce recipe the whole year-round.
How to use this verde mojo
- Marinated pork tenderloin
- Mojo chicken breast (or wings or thighs)
- Mojo flank steak
- Marinade for firm fish (such as tuna)
- Shrimp marinade or sauce
- Dip for fresh veggies (a great choice for vegans)
- Dressing for slaw
- Salad dressing for a roast chicken salad
This easy mojo sauce can be used as a Cuban pork marinade. The acidity in the sauce produces fork-tender pork. It makes a particularly good mojo pork tenderloin. Marinate it for 4-6 hours before cooking.
You can also use it to make Cuban mojo chicken. (I typically marinate chicken for about the same amount to time as pork.) I also use it as a simple marinade for chicken breasts. It is also great with flank steak. I will also use it as a marinade for firm fish. I even use it as a dip and as a tangy and fat-free dressing for grilled or roast chicken over salad greens. You can even use it as a sauce to give new life to leftover roast chicken or turkey.
Store any leftover mojo refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Fast & Easy Mojo Sauce
- 1 orange juice and zest
- 1 lime juice only
- 1 lemon juice only
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
- pinch cumin
- pinch coriander
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Serve with grilled chicken, fish or pork.
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