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Serious Heat: My Love for Mojo Sauce

[Photographs: Miss K]

My first introduction into the wonder of mojo sauce was one of the early seasons of Top Chef, where a contestant (the always entertaining, Howie from the Miami season) braised pork shoulder in a mojo sauce to rave reviews. I quickly replicated the recipe and was in awe of how the citrus flavor paired with the pork.

But that's only the beginning of mojo, which I've discovered since then has many uses and variations. Mojo does triple-duty as a fiery marinade, a condiment, and as a tenderizer for meats, seafood and poultry. There are several versions of mojo throughout the Caribbean, with the Cubans and the Puerto Ricans each having their own versions of this boldly flavorful concoction.

Cuban mojo can be any sauce that is made with lots of garlic, olive oil and citrus juice, traditionally sour orange juice. In Puerto Rican cooking, mojo is an herb sauce made with finely chopped cilantro, black pepper, onions and lemon juice. Whether I am preparing the green or red version, I'll add a teaspoon of hot sauce or smoked paprika/cayenne combination.

As far as uses, mojo sauce often tops boiled potatoes to add zest and color, as well as served with bread or alongside Gouda cheese. And since we're moving away from braising season, use mojo as a marinade for broiled steaks or grilled pork chops. How do you use mojo sauce?

About the author: Andrea Lynn is senior editor for Chile Pepper magazine, where she not only creates a wide range of zesty recipes for readers, but also participates in numerous tastings for hot sauce, salsa, and other spice-laden products (even chocolate!). Her favorite chile? A tie between the mild yet flavorful poblano and the mighty, reliable fire of the serrano.

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