You see, mojo may only have a few ingredients but it's a pain to make the right way. Most people don't have the time to make it right.
Bad mojo and how to recognise it
All mojo served in hotels and most restaurant mojo come in bottles or big plastic catering jars. It tends to be thin and smooth because it's made with a blender. And it's slightly sour with an overpowering taste of cumin. That's because it's got too much vinegar and not enough olive oil and because the fresh garlic loses its pungency when it's pasteurised.
Good mojo looks like lava
It's not so much the ingredients that make a mojo (although quality oil and vinegar help) but the effort that goes into mixing and grinding them. Proper mojo is made in a pestle & mortar rather than in a machine.
It's easy to recognise because the oil separates slightly from the garlic and chilli paste. It looks like a bowl of lava rather than a bowl of orange ketchup.
How to make red mojo the right way
First, you toast your cumin seeds until they start to smell like a Mexican kitchen. Then you grind them up coarse sea salt. Then you add more garlic cloves than you can imagine and keep grinding away. Add a bit of extra-virgin olive oil to loosen things up and keep grinding until you have a thick, pungent paste.
Then add pimentón for colour and taste (paprika is fine). At this point, if you want your mojo to be picón, throw in some hot chilli powder or a dried red chilli that's soaked in warm water to soften. Back to the grinding.
Don't stop until your arm aches.
At this point, you can add a bit of smoked paprika for a deeper flavour, or even a roasted tomato. It's not traditional, but then this is all about your mojo.
Drizzle in olive oil until your mojo starts to loosen; you want it to sit up on a spoon rather than flow.
Lastly, add a glug of good quality Spanish vinagre de Jerez. vinegar aged in wood.
Lex says: Vinagre de Jerez is like Italian balsamic vinger but isn't as sweet. It's fantastic.
You can eat your mojo straight away but it's better if you leave it to mellow for a couple of days.
Alex says: Authentic mojo uses pimientas de la puta madre (mother fucker chillis). They are a local variety of bird's-eye chilli but aren't actually that spicy.
Where to find great red mojo
It's not easy these days because most people either buy their mojo or chuck everything in the blender.
Your best bet is to look for small, local restaurants up in the hills. If there's a granny in the kitchen or the mojo looks like molten rock, you're onto a winner.
When we find the perfect mojo, we'll let you know.
More on Canarian mojo sauce
Mojo sauce is a raw food with lots of garlic and red pepper. It's healthy as well as delicious.
Nobody is quite sure where mojo sauce came from. The history and origins of Canarian mojo sauce.
Here's an excellent red mojo recipe.
And a delicious green mojo recipe.