Some of the main characteristics of Canarian gastronomy are the freshness of its food and the simplicity in the preparation of its dishes. The wonderful climate of the Canary Islands favours both livestock and agriculture, which is why most of the raw materials used in its cuisine are indigenous. The cuisine of the archipelago is considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan and original in Spain. Among its many typical dishes is the roast cheese with mojo, a traditional recipe that has been passed down from father to son since time immemorial.
How to make roasted cheese with mojo
To make the Canarian roasted cheese you will need the following ingredients:
- 300 g. of smoked palmero cheese, half cm. thick
- A head of garlic
- A green pepper
- Three tablespoons of vinegar
- Ten tablespoons of olive oil
- Fat salt
To prepare the grilled cheese you must choose a white cheese from the great variety available in the Fortunate Islands.
Cut it into thick slices and roast it with a few drops of olive oil on a hot griddle. Serve freshly made with a few wrinkled potatoes and a good red or green mojo.
Green or red mojo
Mojo is one of the most typical sauces of the Canary Islands, an essential accompaniment to many of their most traditional dishes. Many types of mojo are spicy due to their pepper content.
Depending on the ingredients with which they are made, the mojos can be divided into two large families: the red mojos and the green mojos.
There are several types of green mojos on the islands: the green mo jo itself, the parsley mojo, widely used in restaurants and guachinches, and the coriander mojo.
Parsley and coriander mojo should be consumed within a few days of being made, as the presence of water prevents them from being kept out of the fridge for too long.
The most common red mojos are composed of paprika and hot pepper or palm. They can be kept outside the fridge for a long time because they lack water, except for those prepared with tomatoes.
Apart from red and green mojos, there are other types of sauces and spreads in the Canary Islands, such as almogrote gomero and mojo cheese from El Hierro and La Palma, which are combined with cheeses for thicker pasta.
However, let's focus on the green and red mojos, which are traditionally used to make roasted Canarian cheese.
Red Mojo or Picón
The ingredients you need to prepare the red mojo are: 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, red hot pepper, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon of paprika, oil, vinegar and coarse salt.
To prepare it you must crush the chopped and peeled garlic, the clean peppercorns, the cumin and the salt in a mortar until it forms a soft paste.
Then add the paprika and, very slowly, the vinegar and oil, until the paste becomes thick. If you like, you can lighten it with some water.
To prepare the green mojo you need the following ingredients: 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, green pepper, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a bunch of coriander, oil, vinegar and coarse salt.
The way to prepare it is similar to the red mojo or picón.
How to get the perfect menu with roasted cheese and mojo
The contrast of the taste of the mojos with the cheese creates pleasant organoleptic sensations that will make you enjoy this traditional preparation to the full. Choosing between one or the other mojo is already a matter of taste, being equally delicious with both accompaniments.
Usually, roasted cheese with mojo is served as a starter or appetizer, freshly prepared so that it is ready and melts.
It is accompanied by fine bread toasts to spread, and it is recommended to pair it with some good Canarian wines that intensify its flavour.
For many, white Canary Island wine is the best accompaniment to roasted cheese with mojo. Let's see some of the most suitable wines:
- CaletasAroma: mineral and fruity notes stand out in its aroma, being in the mouth unctuous and elegant, with a pleasant and long finish.
- Drago-BlancoThe nose is fruity and the palate delicate, very balanced and with floral notes at the end.
- Dry Malvasia VermicelliThe wine is full of mineral and citrus notes and has an acidity that remains firm in the mouth. One of the great white wines of Lanzarote.
However, it is possible that you are more of a red wine than a white one. There's no problem. Roasted cheese with mojo pairs perfectly with many Canarian red wines such as Humboldt Sweet RedVery aromatic, with notes of dried figs and ripe fruit and a full flavor with notes of fruit compote. Very elegant and unique.
Once we are clear about the pairing, it is time to know how to include this delicious starter that is the grilled cheese in a typical canarian menu.
As a first course we can make a millet broth, a very simple and tasty dish made from corn (millet), garlic and chickpeas.
As a second course we can choose a meat-based or a fish-based dish, depending on taste.
If you prefer meat, a good option is rabbit in salmorejo, prepared with a marinated sauce.
If your choice is a fish dish, few Canarian dishes with this base are more typical than sancocho, boiled salted fish with gofio, sweet potato, potatoes and mojo.
To round off this Canarian gastronomic tribute there is nothing better than enjoying some of the most typical desserts ofthe Canary Islands, such as bienmesabe, frangollo, rapaduras or rosquetes.
If you prefer to end up with a refreshing fruit, you will not be short of native varieties. Apart from the universally known and iconic banana of the Canary Islands, you can also choose from excellent figs, mangos or avocados, among others.
Roast cheese with mojo is one of the great classics of Canarian gastronomy, a magnificent starter to start a menu that covers the best of a culinary tradition as fortunate as the very land from which it comes.
Photos: main, Mojo Ajordey Fortaleza (@MojoArgodey); restaurant La Hierbita, Santa Cruz de Tenerife; Giovi Malfory (emotionrit.it).