This piquant sauce comes from the famed islands off the coast of Spain. It’s so popular that it’s often served at tapas bars as a dip for bread. I also love it with other toothsome fish like tuna, sea bass, and monkfish.
For the mojo:
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 dried chile pepper, such as ancho
- 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves plus a few stems
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey, or more to taste
- 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the fish:
- 2-pound fillet of salmon, skin on
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Fresh coarsely ground black pepper
To make the mojo sauce, start by charring the red peppers. You can do this on a grill, under the broiler in your oven, or by holding one pepper at a time over a gas range burner. Turn as needed to blacken the skin on all sides, and then let them cool for several minutes before peeling off and discarding the skins and removing the stems, ribs, and seeds. Coarsely chop the peppers and put them in the jar of a blender.
On the grill or in a dry sauté pan, toast the dried chile pepper for 30 seconds to 1 minute, turning once. Let cool, and then break into pieces, discarding the stem, ribs, and seeds. Add half to the blender jar, reserving the rest. Add in the cilantro, garlic, vinegar, honey, pimentón, cumin, and salt. Blend until fairly smooth. Then slowly add the oil through the blender lid with the machine running and process until the oil is incorporated. You want a thick but pourable sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding more of the reserved chile, vinegar, honey, cumin, and/or salt as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
Run your fingers over the salmon fillet to check for bones. Pull out any that you find with kitchen tweezers or sanitized needle-nose pliers. Lightly oil the salmon on both sides and season with the salt and pepper.
If you’re using your oven broiler (typically at a temp of 450-500ºF), place the salmon on a baking sheet and broil for 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can bake it at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.)
If you’re grilling the salmon on a charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side of the grill pan; for a gas grill, light the outer burners but leave the middle burner(s) unlit. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the salmon with its skin side down on the grill grate, but not directly over the coals. Put the lid on. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pressed with a fork. Use a large spatula to transfer the fillet to a platter. Drizzle some mojo sauce over the fish and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
Note: A wire grill basket is a great tool for grilling fish—oil the basket, place the fish in it, and place it on your grill. When the fish is done, use tongs to lift the basket off the grill without the worry of the fillet coming apart.
Yields 4 servings.