Work Your Mojo with Some Mojo – Papas Arrugadas con Mojo Rojo y Mojo Verde (Wrinkled Potatoes with Red Pepper and Cilantro Sauce)

Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon
Over a year ago when we were in Madrid, Spain we had two dining experiences that were particularly memorable. They were memorable because these were the spots we ended up just doing an eenie-meenie-minee-moe way to pick it. Sometimes those restaurants, the type that involve zero research or reading of reviews, that end up being the best.  The first experience we chronicled on this here blog many moons ago, but the other one has not reared its head until now.  Luckily for us, that day we stumbled upon the only true and authentic Canarian restaurant in Madrid – El Escaldon.

Neither Jonny nor I have ever been to the Canary Islands and we were excited to try some of its indigenous foods even though we were over 1700 kilometers away. As Jonny and I took a seat at the bar, we got comfy and ready to wile away the night with a few bottles of wine and a vast selection of Canarian and Madrileños treats. The wonderful hostess of the restaurant helped us order some of her favorite dishes, one being a specialty of the Canary Islands called Papas Arrugadas. A steaming plate of small white potatoes with a white coating on their extremely wrinkled skin was placed in front of us. Next to them, dipping sauces. My face lit up with joy – carbs AND dipping sauces on the same plate? This could be my version of heaven! Those who know me well know how much I love to dip anything into anything. In fact, in eighth grade I was often made fun of for foregoing the school lunch and instead going to the salad bar “fixings” tray and eating a bowl of crutons dipped in various salad dressings as my lunch. Healthy, huh? I ended up earning the title of “Condiment Queen” (not Condom Queen, folks) for my love of dipping. But I digress…

Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon

Potatoes were first cultivated in the Canary Islands in the later 1500’s when the conquistadores brought them over. In fact, the first mention of potatoes existance was in Peru in 1552 and the first documented on the Canary Islands was in 1567. So, it is greatly believed that the first origin of the potato in Europe came from the Canary Islands.

Why are they not called patatas, like in Spain but instead called papas like the Latin Americans call potatoes? Well, because this is a specific type of potato that it is believed to have been brought over to the Canary Islands from Peru.  These are always small, between 2 and 5 inches in length and grown in a mountainous region. The papas come in three colors: pink, bonito, which is pale yellow, and black. The bonito and black are the more prized type, especially the black because it slightly resembles a truffle.

Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon

The wrinkled outer skin of the potato comes from boiling them in heavily salted water. Originally this dish was made using seawater, so keep that in mind when adding the salt to your boiling water. Because we didn’t have any of the potatoes the specifically grow in the Canary Islands, we used small white potatoes (baby creamers) and small red (new) potatoes, which worked just fine. This popular Canarios dish is often eaten on it’s own as a tapa or as a side dish to meat of fish.  Papas Arrugadas aren’t always served with both the Mojo Verde and Mojo Rojo (also known as Mojo Picon), but I liked the choices of dipping sauces.  Both sauces went perfectly well with our grilled loin of lamb.  The Mojo Verde reminded me of a version of salsa verde. Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon

This dish would even be great as finger food at a party.  Don’t be afraid by the amount of salt used in the dish because the final result ends up being perfectly salted.  So pretend you’re in the Canary Islands and give these Papas Arrugadas a try.


Ingredients for Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds of small potatoes (either red/new or creamers or a mixture of both)
  • water
  • 2 to 3 cups of coarse salt

Ingredients for the Mojo Rojo/Picon:

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 small to medium red pepper, roasted, skin removed and deseeded
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons of sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar

Ingredients for Mojo Verde:

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed to a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro (with stems) – maybe two handfulls
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons of sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar

What to do:

  1. Boil enough water to hold the potatoes and add the salt. When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes and allow to cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, make your mojo rojo.  Add all ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor or blender.  With the motor going, slowly add the olive oil and taste for seasonings. Some people like thier mojo more acidic and others don’t – add more seasoning if you would like it and olive oil if it seems too acidic for you.
  3. Clean out your food processor/blender and make your mojo verde by following the same instructions as Step #2.
  4. After the potatoes have cooked for 20 minutes, drain the excess water and put the potatoes back in the dry pan and turn the heat on up to medium – high.  Allow the potatoes to “dry” the excess water off in the hot pan.  Swirl the pan around so that the potatoes don’t stick.  Do this for about five minutes.  You should see the potato skins get a white film on them and the skin will wrinkle a bit. 
  5. Serve the potatoes with the mojos in bowls.  We served ours with some grilled lamb loins that were marinated in some garlic with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon

29 thoughts on “Work Your Mojo with Some Mojo – Papas Arrugadas con Mojo Rojo y Mojo Verde (Wrinkled Potatoes with Red Pepper and Cilantro Sauce)

  1. Both of those sauces look like great dips for just about anything. Potatoes are a nice hearty thing to dip. YOu don’t see something like that very often. I could see doing thing this as a nibble before a dinner party.

  2. Hi guys! My friend Michael and I just found your site tonight and we love it! It’s actually similar to the things we’ve been trying to do with ours. Recipes, interviews, commentary, reviews… Good to see you’re having such success. Consider us fans already!

  3. hey rachel, elra, daily spud and natasha. thanks! i actually loved how vibrant the colors were too – it does make you want to have fun and think spring b/c the colors are so bright.

    TAO: thanks for stopping by. i really hope you check out El Escaldon while in Madrid. Also, check out the other place we linked to in post for a delicious Arroz Mariniero. Have a wonderful time in one of our favorite cities. i’m a bit jealous…

    Brittany: thanks for the comments!i’m going to go check out your blog but thanks so much for coming and i hope we see you back again soon. if you have any questions about it all, feel free to email us at

    joan: yeah, it is fun. i think fingerlings would work awesome here. great idea…

  4. I’ve seen this method for boiling potatoes in heavily salted water before but had forgotten it! I think my kids would love dipping the wrinkly potatoes. They must taste lovely with the slight salt crust on the outside. I must try this!

  5. Spain must be in the air – I’m in the middle of posting about some fideos I made last night. Woulda been nice to have some of yours to enjoy with some of mine, and the cheap Tempranillo we drank would’ve tasted even sweeter.

    The name mojo rojo reminds me of Loco Roco.

  6. Ohhh yumm, whenever i make boiled potatoes, I deliberately boil too many so then the next morning I can turn them into home fries and then if there are still more left, I use them like bread dipping them in hummus, caponata, bagna cauda, etc…

  7. Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve answered you and you should have no problem getting past my censors. Earlier your header was Pizza and now it’s fish. Such a beautiful blog to look at. I know you like to eat (and well) but where are you located?

  8. Just saw Jose Andreas make these on his show “Made in Spain” on PBS. He was profiling the Canary Islands. I was intrigued by these wrinkly spuds, so I googled “papas arrugadas” and found your blog. This dish sounds so wonderful. Thanks for posting your recipe.

  9. If at a dinner party, would it be appropriate to double-dip these babies? I couldn’t possibly get enough of either of those sauces in just one dip….

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