Asparagus is particularly good at the moment with nice juicy, fat stems that are perfect for grilling. For years, I blanched asparagus and then refreshed them in iced water before dressing them, but last year, I discovered the joy of just baking, sauteeing or throwing them on the barbie, which makes fresh asparagus a snap to make.
This Cuban mojo sauce (pronounced MOH-hoh, apparently) is a recent discovery of mine, one of those things that seems unbelievable that I’ve never even heard of it before. It’s traditionally used as a marinade or dipping sauce for pulled pork and seafood, but it goes brilliantly with just about any grilled vegetable. Cubans make it with bitter (Seville) oranges and, if I come across some Seville oranges, I’ll definitely try it with them, but I only had some blood oranges which I combined with lime juice for extra zip.
If you are using this as a marinade, you can add some cumin or dried oregano, but I made it the first time very simply with garlic, oranges, lime and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I’ve been unable to add anything else because it is just too good this way, it’s one of those discoveries that’s hard to believe something so simple can be so amazingly good.
There’s a few different techniques for making mojo, including heating the oil and then adding citrus and garlic crushed in salt, but this recipe from Food & Wine is my favourite because it’s one of the easiest and makes an emulsified, fluffy sauce that looks a little like the Greek egg and lemon sauce, Avgolemono. I’ve halved the oil in the original recipe – not because I’m against oil but because I like a cleaner more citrusy flavour. If you think it seems like an extraordinary amount of garlic, do not fear! It sort of just melds into the citrus and is not over the top at all.
I serve it in a jug and use it like a gravy. You can pour it over just about anything. It also makes a brilliant accompaniment to tostones, which are next on my ‘must cook now’ list.
Cuban mojo sauce
- 6 large cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- ¼ cup of blood orange juice (1 orange)
- ¼ cup of lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- black pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Place garlic in a small bowl of a food processor and process with salt, gradually add combined lime and orange juice and process until combined and fluffy. Gradually pour in oil and process until mixture emulsifies.
- Serve within an hour or two.
- Mojo sauce will keep up to four days in the refrigerator but it will separate and needs to be whisked together again.
If you are using ordinary oranges, you should use a bit more lime juice to offset their sweetness. If you are using bitter oranges, just use orange juice.
- Marinate asparagus in some mojo sauce for about 20 minutes.
- Heat grill. Cook asparagus on grill, turning frequently until tender.