Pescado en Mojo Isleño

Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Carolyn Swaney

Nothing says Puerto Rican food like this Boricua-style blend of velvety tomatoes, citrusy capers, and tangy olives.
Like so many Puerto Rican dishes, the roots of Mojo Isleño, or Island Sauce, are dug deep in the gastronomic history of the Canary Islands. When Canarians immigrated to the Caribbean, they brought with them this tangy tomato and garlic based sauce. In this version, the onions and peppers give this a decidedly island style. Many recipes for Mojo Isleño call for tomato sauce only, but the fresh chopped tomatoes make the sauce a little chunkier, almost a side dish, in and of itself.

You may even want to toss a tablespoon of mojo in with your mofongo! Plantains edge out the North American mashed potato in a side dish that is completely delicious. Sure, the name is a bit rough … sounds like something you’d say when you stub your toe, but this garlicky puree makes other starchy sides pale in comparison. With the consistency and richness of a potato, the flavor is richer than most tubers. A little garnish brightens up the color and brings out the flavor of the aromatics. Only green plantains will do! They are starchier than their more ripe counterparts.

On a plate, it looks as good as it tastes!

Yields 6 servings


6 red snapper fillets (substitute with white-flesh fish)
½ onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons capers

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

15 manzanilla olives, coarsely chopped

½ cup water

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon oil


1. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat, and sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté one minute longer. Remove to a bowl, and in the same oil, raise heat to medium high, and fry fish filets until golden, turning once for even color on both sides. Remove from pan

2. Add bell pepper to pan and sauté for 1 minute. Return onions and garlic to the pan, and add tomatoes through olives. Cook sauce for 10 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.

3. Add fish back to pan to warm through, but not turning in the pan. Place fillets on a plate and spoon a few tablespoons of the sauce on top.

4. Freeze any leftover sauce to top a chicken breast, shrimp, or even just rice on a quick dinner night!


Serves 6 as a side

3 green plantains, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cups chicken stock or water

½ onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ olive oil, divided

2 cups chicken stock or water

½ cup chicharrones (pork rinds) chopped

3 green onions, green part only, sliced thin


1. Bring water or stock to a boil, then simmer plantains for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan. Sauté onions until translucent and add garlic. Add a bit more oil and strained, cooked plantains. Fry for about 2 minutes or until fully cooked. Mash plantains with the back of a wooden spoon, a pestle, or a potato masher. Add the reserved stock or more oil as necessary to make a creamy puree. Add a few spoonfuls of the mojo for a little extra flavor, if desired.

3. Add pork rinds, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve with a few green onions as a garnish.


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