movida mojo

mojo picon with shaved zucchini & mint salad

When talking to people about hobbies and I mention that I’m into cooking, I often get asked what type of things I like to cook. And my response is always, well everything. It all depends on so many things. My mood, the weather, my level of hunger, whether I’m heading out hunting and gathering first or just knocking something up from the fridge. The seasons of course play a big part in it but often I’m inspired by whatever cookbook I happen to be reading at the time.

As sad as this sounds people, I have to come clean. I’ve become one of those types who read cookbooks like they’re novels. Speaking of which, I really can’t remember the last work of fiction that I even started let alone finished.

My latest obsession has been with a Christmas gift from my little sister, Sas, a gorgeous book from the good people of Movida restaurant in Melbourne, easily the best Tapas bar south of the boarder. Let’s just say that lately, things in my kitchen have taken on a decidedly Spanish vibe.

It all started on New Years Eve on my mate Captain Crutts’ boat smack-bang in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a six course Spanish tasting menu. And since then, well, I’ve been going through salt cod, tomatoes, white anchovies and smoked paprika faster than a bull at a gate. So this week I’m sharing two of my most favourite recent discoveries.

Just telling your guests that Mojo is on the menu, is enough to get the excitement levels up. There’s no need to go into details like the Movida boys do. I mean no one wants to know that mojo just means ‘wet’ and refers to a multitude of sauces from the Canary Islands. Surely it’s more fun to get into the groove and do a few Austin Powers impersonations, yeah baby.

Ever since discovering the technique of salt baking food in a super salty dough, I’ve been hooked. Lamb, chicken and salmon…I’ve given them all a go. But my latest venture into the world of salt baking has been to do away with the actual dough, which does tend to be a little labour intensive to roll out. Instead I’ve been following Frank Camarrone’s lead and just mixing a heap of salt with a little egg white to form a kind of slurry and then layering it on a baking tray, topping with the fish and then covering with more salt. The results are still deliciously moist fish, well seasoned and fully flavoured from their salty enclosure…..all good things.

salt baked trevally with mojo picon
serves 2
Inspired by Frank Camorra & Richard Cornish’s great little book Movida: Spanish Culinary Adventures.

This is one of those dishes that sounds a little weird but ends up looking dead impressive, and actually tasting divine, all for very little effort. You can pretty much bake any type of fish in the salt crust. I love a whole snapper but smaller fish work well too. Frank recommends sardines which are high on my list of things to try, as are garfish.

For a larger fish you’ll need to adjust the cooking time, allow about 10mins for every 500g. The amount of salt crust here is very generous for 2 small fish. I’ve successfully baked a 3.5kg snapper using one quantity of this salt crust.

Don’t stress too much about the type of salt. I prefer to use chunky rock salt because it looks good and is easier to pick off if you happen to get some on your fish while you’re serving up. Saying that, I accidentally picked up a packet of normal table salt and still had good results.

Mojo picon refers to dressings based on red capsicum or peppers. Frank also does a mojo verde which is based on parsley, something similar to a salsa verde. While this mojo is an excellent pick me up and works a treat with fish, traditionally it’s served in the Canary Islands with papas arrugadas – potatoes cooked in salt. The quantities here should make enough mojo for at least four people so if you’re only serving two there should be leftovers to experiment with.

2 plate sized trevally, approx 500g each
2kg rock salt
4 egg whites
½ bunch flat leaf parsley
2 lemons, finely sliced
for the mojo:
2 red capsicum (peppers)
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
2T sweet smoky paprika
1t hot paprika
1T ground cumin seeds
1/3C extra virgin olive oil
1/4C red wine vinegar
pinch sugar

Preheat oven to 200C. Divide lemon and parsley between fish cavities. Place salt in a large bowl and stir through egg whites. Place a layer of salt mix down on a baking tray and place fish on top so they aren’t touching. Cover with remaining salt sealing each fish into it’s own little shell, leaving the head and tail exposed.

Place in the oven and bake for 15-20mins or until salt crust is just starting to turn lightly golden and the fish eye is opaque. Allow to rest for a few minutes.

While the fish is cooking mix up your mojo. Cut the capsicum into 4 flattish slices discarding the seeds. Place under the grill and cook with the door closed until the skin is blackened and charred and the flesh soft. Approx 15mins. Place capsicum in a heatproof bowl and cover and allow to steam and cool. When cool enough to handle remove skin and place flesh in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients except oil and whiz until smooth. Add oil and pulse until combined. Season with salt & pepper and a little touch of sugar.

I like to serve the fish at the table still cosseted in their salt blanket with the mojo passed separately.

shaved zucchini (courgette) & mint salad
serves 4

I’ve been a big fan of shaved salads for a while now. This is an adaptation of a recipe I published earlier. It works really well as a side dish for fish but also works with bbq meat, especially lamb.
4 medium zucchini
2T lemon juice
5T extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch mint, leaves picked and torn
1/2 thin skinned lemon, scrubbed and finely sliced into rounds, optional

Thinly shave the zucchini lengthwise using a v-slicer, mandoline, vegetable peeler or sharp knife. Combine lemon juice and oil in a bowl and season well. Add zucchini and toss through. Allow to stand for at least 10mins to absorb the dressing.
Take lemon slices and cut into tiny wedge shaped segments leaving the rind on. Toss mint and lemon through zucchini and serve on a platter.

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While I generally like to keep what’s happening next on stonesoup a surprise, this week I need some moral support so thought I’d publically announce that I’m detoxing for one whole week. That means a whole seven days without alchocol, caffeine, meat or animal based products. Wish me luck & tune in next week to see whether I made it or not.

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{ 10 comments }

Em January 21, 2008 at 11:41 am

Good luck Jules, I hope you’re into headaches… Will cabbage soup be on the menu???
By the way, this is the recipe I’m trying for the month, I’ll let you know how it goes!

grocer January 21, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Great post as always and I admire you for going public on the detox!

Whilst like you, I am a “from scratch” person, I have recently come across a product that is a worthy introduction, and fits with your post.

It’s called “mojo picon” by a company of the same name – owner Matilde grew up in the canary islands. they do a mojo picon (red) and mojo verde (you guessed it, green). No preservatives, and great flavour.

http://www.mojopicon.com.au

(no this is not my business – I just think it’s a great product)

Grocer

Arwen January 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Good luck on the detox! Are you giving up coffee as well? If so, you’re a braver woman than I. I’ve spent extended periods without meat or booze, but I can only manage a little while without my coffee.

And I can second the vote for Mojo Picon – we’ve got a jar of their mojo verde in the fridge, and it’s lovely – so fresh and sharp and green. Picked it up from the farmer’s markets at Fox studios. Yum!

zoe January 21, 2008 at 11:29 pm

mmm… mojo picon with chorizo… but just as easily: mmmm… stone soup/movida’s mojo with chorizo! will have to give it a go.

good luck on the detox, they suck, but are so worth it! I love the post-detox super taster experience; everything tastes amazing! the simplest unseasoned vege broth has the most complex flavours, it’s a good reminder of the beauty of simple natural food.. like restart for the palate.

Stephanie January 22, 2008 at 2:53 am

Stunning book, and your pics are, as ever, wonderful. Good luck with the detox…so will you be sharing some juice and tea recipes with us next week then?

canarygirl January 23, 2008 at 7:15 am

Hello from the Canaries! :) Great recipe for mojo! Your version is typical from the island of La Palma…Here in Las Palmas (Grand Canary Island) we generally use a couple of cayennes in place of the bell peppers (and I like to use smokey paprika in place of hot, but that’s just me lol). Mojo is great on just about everything…try it with various cheeses, as a marinade for chicken, pork or game, with fish fingers (churros de pescado)….And omg you are so right that salt baked fish is SO good! Excellent post! :)

Sheryl January 25, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Hi from New Zealand. I’ve just discovered your blog – delicous and wonderful images. Very inspiring! We eat alot of seafood here so I will try the salt bake for sure.

Anne January 26, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Hi from the States–you don’t know me from a bump on a log but I am a regular lurking reader, and have included you in my 10 blogs that make me happy list!

Cakespy January 26, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Wow, it all looks so delicious…I love salads like this!

jules January 27, 2008 at 12:41 am

hey em
definitely no cabbage soup. I lived with a girl in England who was obsessed with the stuff…tried it once and that was enough. let me know how you get on

grocer
nothing to admire about going public on the detox…it was the only way I could motivate myself to try to stick to it… thanks for the tip on mojo picon…will keep an eye out for it

arwen
yep no coffee but I probably only have one or two a weeks so it’s no biggie for me…booze on the other hand is the big hurdle..it’s funny how everyone has their own hurdles

zoe
great suggestion with the chorizo…will def give it a try when detox week is over…and thanks for the vote of confidence…

thanks stephanie
loving the movida book.. definintely recommending…

hey canary girl
this is why I love blogging…how exciting to get feedback from a local… thanks for the tips…love the idea of using it as a marinade

sheryl
thanks for dropping by. you kiwis are blessed when it comes to seafood

anne
thanks for leaving such a sweet message…knowing that stonesoup makes you happy makes me happy too

thanks cakespy. I’m a sucker for salads too

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