Photo: Fred Lopez/Staff photographer
By: Chef Randal White of Arthur’s at the Ocala Hilton
Being a native boy from Tampa, Florida (known for Cuban food and cigars), I grew up with my grandmother's lemon vinaigrette dressing on salads. In Florida, it was just normal and anyone can relate — when you walked out the back door and picked the oranges yourself, you just couldn't beat the price. At times my mother still makes her own dressing. Growing up in Florida you know that if a wild orange tree would come up it would be a sour orange tree unless it was grafted with a sweet orange sprout to make a sweet tree, so the one's that were sour were used for sour orange vinaigrette, sour orange pie (like key lime pie) or sour orange lemonade.
You will find bottled mojo (Goya) in almost any grocery store, or search their produce department for the ugly, bumpy, thick skinned sour oranges. Those are the ones you want!
1/4 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup sour orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
Directions: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan then add the garlic and cook until lightly toasted. Don't let it brown. In about 30 seconds it should be flavorful. Add the cumin, salt and pepper and set off to the side to cool. Then add sour orange and lime juice and blend in blender, taste and correct seasoning, if needed. Mojo should be served within a couple of hours of making, but it will keep for a few days, covered well in the refrigerator. It is great tossed with shredded pork for Cuban sandwiches, tostones (fried green plantain chips), terra chips, etc. or as a marinade for grilled seafood chicken, pork or even beef. For best results marinate the chicken and pork over night and grill the next day using the excess as a basting sauce. For the beef however, I only do a quick 1 minute marinate and use it as a basting sauce. Season with the Spanish adobo and you will love it. This recipe is more traditional to Cuban cuisine. Yet as an innovator in the business and not having a sour orange tree out back, I will toss a chef's secret out at you — what I do most of the time is add cilantro, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice and lime juice blended equally instead of the sour orange and lime.
Tostones (Fried Plantain chips)
½ cup oil for frying
1 green plantain, cut into ¾ inch chunks
2 cups cold water
salt to taste
Directions: Heat the oil in skillet. Place the plantains in the oil and fry until golden brown
Remove the plantains and flatten the plantains by pressing down with plate or another pan. Soak the plantains in water a minute and dry on towel, then return them to the hot oil and fry 1 minute on each side. Season with salt when hot from the oil to taste and serve with mojo.
WHAT IS MOJO:
Basically, mojo is a sauce or marinade that originates from Cuba that has sour orange, garlic and olive oil, used over fish, chicken or pork. Add fresh cracked pepper and cumin for enhanced flavor.
Sometimes I add cilantro, but not always. I try to keep it as originally “home-made” as possible.
If you cannot get sour oranges, try fresh oranges with lime juice concentrate.
Tenderize the chicken, breaking down the muscle so that it is easier to chew, cooks faster and absorbs the mojo marinade better.