Mojo Marinade

Mojo Marinade

A mojo marinade is a combination of citrus juice, garlic and oil. It’s very popular in Cuban cuisine.

A close up image of mojo marinade.

 

Mojo injects wonderful flavor to meat. It’s commonly used as a pork and chicken marinade like in this Cuban roast pork and this mojo marinated grilled chicken. But it works great on all poultry like in these mojo marinated Cornish hens. However you use it, this garlic and citrus marinade will add a tropical flair to your meal.

 

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What’s in a Cuban-style mojo?

Now, let me start by saying that just about every Cuban home-cook has their own recipe for mojo. And Yes, their mojo is always the “Best”. Mojo recipes get passed down from one generation to the next and everybody puts their own spin on it.

 

Ingredients vary widely and include herbs, spices, even onions and peppers are added to mojo. While most ingredients may be different from recipe to recipe, at its essence a Cuban mojo must contain: Fresh Garlic, Oil (usually Olive Oil or Lard), and Citrus Juice. The citrus juice traditionally used in mojo is sour orange.

 

What are sour oranges?

Sour orange, also called bitter orange and Seville orange, is a type of orange with a rough, bumpy skin and a sour juice. The color ranges from orange to a pale-yellow with green streaks.

Sour oranges displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

The inside can be vibrant to dull orange in color, and they have a lot of seeds.

A sour orange cut in half.

 

Unlike the sweet orange, sour oranges are not eaten out of hand like fresh fruit, instead they are most commonly used to make marinades. Sour orange (or naranja agria in Spanish) is the prominent ingredient in the popular Cuban mojo marinade.

 

Where can I find sour oranges?

During the latter part of the year, near the Christmas season, many Latin markets will stock sour oranges. You can find them through-out the year too, but it’s hit or miss.

 

What can I substitute for sour orange juice?

If sour oranges are not available in your area you can make a pretty good substitute by combining orange juice (fresh squeezed is best) and lime juice at a 2:1 ratio. Two parts orange juice to one part lime juice. Shake or stir the juice to combine well.

 

Another alternative to consider is bottled sour orange juice. It’s not made with sour oranges; the ingredients include grapefruit juice and other citrus. Even if it’s not the real thing, bottled sour orange juice will still get us that sweet and sour taste we’re looking for. Sour orange juice can be found in the international section of large grocery stores, or find it online – bottled sour orange juice.

 

Mojo Ingredients

This is my family’s mojo recipe. We like to keep it simple around here, so other than the sour oranges you probably have most (or all) of these items in your cupboards already. To make this Cuban mojo you will need:

  • 1 Garlic Head, peeled and smashed
  • 2 teaspoons Coarse Salt, divided (½ teaspoon to breakdown the garlic and 1½ teaspoon for the marinade) – we used Kosher salt, it works really well
  • 1½ cups Sour Orange Juice – how many oranges to use will depend on how large and juicy they are, we used 5 sour oranges
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Bay Leaf

The ingredients for mojo displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

You will also need:

 

How to make mojo marinade

Juice the sour oranges.

Juicing a sour orange.

 

Use a mesh strainer to strain the juice, they contain a lot of seeds and this is the best way to catch them all.

Straining sour orange juice in a mesh strainer.

 

Peel and smash the garlic by separating the cloves and cutting off the tough end. Place the cloves on a cutting board and give each one a good whack with a meat mallet or the side of a large knife. Once you smash the garlic you can pick the peel right off.

A smashed garlic clove on a wood cutting board.

 

Add the garlic and ½ teaspoon salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small, flat pieces.

Smashed garlic on a pestle.

 

Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well. Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. Shake or stir well before using.

Mojo marinade in a canning jar.

 

You may also like these classic Cuban recipes:

Bistec de Palomilla

Ropa Vieja

Sopa de Pollo (Cuban Chicken Soup)

Vaca Frita de Pollo

Cuban Picadillo

 

A close up image of mojo marinade.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Mojo Marinade

A mojo marinade is a combination of citrus juice, garlic and oil. It's very popular in Cuban cuisine. Mojo injects wonderful flavor to meat, especially pork and chicken.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Refrigerate at least1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: marinade
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: marinade for meat
Servings: 8
Calories: 53kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 1 Head of Garlic peeled and smashed
  • cups Sour Orange Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano dried
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 teaspoons Coarse Salt divided

Instructions

  • If you’re making the sour orange juice: combine 1 cup of orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed) and ½ cup lime juice. Stir or shake the juice to combine well.
  • Juice the sour oranges. Use a strainer to catch all the seeds.
  • Peel and smash the garlic cloves.
  • Add the garlic and ½ teaspoon salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces.
  • Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well.
  • Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. It will keep overnight too, if you want to make it ahead of time.
  • Shake or stir the mojo marinade well before using.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 53kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 93IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.

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