Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo
Lets talk. What I have here is something that will turn your homemade food from good to spectacular, Mojo de Ajo, [MOH-hoh day AH-hoh]. Some people call this sauce “liquid gold” because of its’ gold color from the minced garlic and priceless flavor. The name essentially translates to garlic sauce, but some people believe it is more of a condiment than a sauce. While the garlic simmers in olive oil, the raw brashness mellows to a sweet roasted garlic flavor that permeates the olive oil. Mojo de Ajo is worth making and transforms any food it touches.
Liquid Gold is different from garlic infused olive oil you can buy at the store. There is a prominent roasted garlic flavor with a subtle citrus note. Fresh squeezed orange juice sweetens the olive oil and cuts down on any heaviness associated with oil based sauces.
This recipe is from Alex Stupak’s cookbook, Tacos, and is different from other mojo de ajo recipes I’ve seen. His recipe has extra flavor from minced tomatoes. They add a nice texture and makes it more of a condiment, like a salsa. The tomatoes compliment the garlic infusion like the orange juice, and the toasted spices adds just the right amount of heat.
Read my review of Tacos here.
Special Ingredients for Mojo de Ajo
Most of the ingredients in Mojo de Ajo are readily available at any grocery store, but there are two ingredients that need some tracking down, Arbol chilies and Mexican oregano. You can get both of these ingredients at Latin Markets, well stocked spice stores, and some grocery stores. Arbol chili is usually sold dried whole, retaining its shape and red color. It adds a subtle heat to the Mojo de ajo and worth sourcing.
Mexican oregano is different from Italian oregano, in fact they are two different plant families. I do not believe they are interchangeable, because they taste and smell so different. Italian oregano has a mintier flavor and I think is more bitter. Mexican oregano is grassier with a slight citrus flavor. When I toast Mexican oregano, it smells like you just walked into a Grateful Dead concert, so you might not want to make this the same day you have your in-laws over for dinner. Despite the distinctive smell, it does not taste like pot but has an herby flavor that compliments many Mexican meals. If you like to make Mexican cuisine it is a worthwhile herb to have in your spice drawer. I promise you it is not marijuana and I use it in all my Mexican food recipes.
Best Uses for Mojo de Ajo
- Mojo de Ajo is trans-formative and adds great depth of flavor to any dish it’s paired with.
- Drizzle it over grilled meats, chicken, fish or vegetables.
- Braise baby artichokes in Mojo de Ajo instead of the anchovy caper sauce.
- Use the oil to marinate steaks, then drizzle the garlic and tomatoes over the sliced meat.
- Roast Shrimp smothered in Mojo de Ajo, and switch up the cocktail sauce with some of the garlic sauce.
- Add to hummus for extra garlic flavor.
- Spoon into soups especially ones made with winter squash.
- Drizzle over grilled tofu.
- Smear it over toasted bread.
- Marinate goat cheese in the Mojo de Ajo for a special cheese course.
- Mix into ground turkey for a turkey burger or meatloaf.
- Mix into an aioli or mayonnaise for a great sandwich spread or dip.
The possibilities are endless.
Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo
An amazing condiment made with olive oil, minced garlic, and orange juice. This recipe is from Alex Stupak's book, Taco's. His version includes diced tomatoes with the minced garlic which adds a lovely texture and subtle tomato flavor. Mojo de Ajo is delicious drizzled over grilled meats or vegetables, stirred into grains, or smeared over toasted crusty bread.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).
- 2 arbol chilies
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup (250 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 20 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice from 1 orange
- 1 plum tomato, diced
Make the spice blend
Slice the arbol chilies in half lengthwise and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
Heat a small heavy skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the arbol chilies, Mexican oregano, and black peppercorns and toast the spices. Shake the pan back and forth so the spiced do not burn. Toast for about 15 seconds and quickly pour the spices onto a plate to cool.
Pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind them into a fine powder. Set aside. If you do not have a spice grinder, pour the toasted spices onto a cutting board, and mince with a sharp knife to as fine a texture you can get.
Make the Mojo de Ajo
In a two quart sauce pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Simmer the garlic until is just begins to get a golden brown, about 8 minutes or longer. Be careful that the garlic does not get too brown or burn.
Add the orange juice, diced tomatoes and ground spice powder and simmer for a couple of minutes or until the tomatoes are soft n thoroughly cooked.
Turn off the heat and let the mojo de ajo cool. Pour the whole lot into a glass container with a tight fitting lid.
Store in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for one month as long as the garlic and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked through. Before using, bring the Mojo de Ajo up to room temperature.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.