Mojo in English means an amulet, charm or magic spell, or the ability to cast such a spell. But in Spanish, mojar is to soak or dip so a mojo, at least in the Canary Islands, is a dip, like the ubiquitous hummus or taramasalata. I quite like the idea, even if it’s not technically a direct translation or link, of a dip having a certain magic because it is more and more obvious to me that knowing the basics of how to make the simplest of sauces (and there is nada more simple than a dip) can really add to your cooking repertoire.
I’m not talking about complicated stuff like hollandaise, Béarnaise or mayonnaise (all French, funny that). I’m much more interested in how a pesto, which is just ingredients ground or processed together, can make a meal out of pasta or gnocchi, how the combination of the smallest number of simple flavours can create the buzz of a gremolata or how, by adjusting the density of a sauce (thinning a pesto for example), you can make a dressing for salad or a sauce for meat or fish. This coriander mojo seems to originate in the Canary Islands or Puerto Rico and, although I was expecting a relatively unspectacular sauce, something that would use up some coriander but not be very surprising, it was an unexpected treat. The tiny amount of cumin moves this away from the European flavours of a traditional herb pesto and brings it closer to the tastes of Morocco or Lebanon; you could use it as a dip as intended, perhaps with warm pitta bread, or serve it with some hot lamb chops and couscous.
Mojo de cilantro (adapted from Culinaria Spain)
For a good cereal bowlful you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
garlic cloves, 3-4
sea salt, ½ teaspoon
olive oil, 200ml or ¾ cup
ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon
fresh coriander, a good size bunch (a large handful should do it)
white wine vinegar, a little to taste
1. Rinse the coriander and get rid of the really stalky bits so you have mostly leaves.
2. Peel and chop the garlic cloves then put in a food processor or pestle and mortar with the salt and cumin. Process/pound to a paste.
3. Add the coriander leaves and process/pound again.
4. Slowly pour in the oil, mixing it in as you go until you have a deep green sauce.
5. Season to taste with the pepper and a dash of vinegar.