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MOJAMA - SALTED SPANISH TUNA COOKING INFORMATION

Mojama - a salted loin of tunaMojama is a salted loin of tuna, think Spanish tuna and the tinned gourmet rod caught Yellowfin may spring to mind but for hundreds of years fishermen have been salting their fish to help preserve the catch, the result of this age old method of preservation means that the art of curing fish is still practiced today and Spanish cured tuna is a delicacy enjoyed throughout Spain, particularly in Madrid as lunchtime tapas.

Mojama is made by curing the tuna loins for two to three days (depending on size) then, similarly with Spanish cured ham the salt is washed off and the loins are left to cure. The traditional method still involves laying out the tuna loins and letting them dry cure in the sun and coastal breezes, this process usually takes around three weeks.

To taste mojama is to experience one of those foods from days gone by when salting and preserving was essential, mojama has now arguably become one of the most enjoyed salted seafood products and is commonly regarded as ‘gourmet’, if Spanish Iberico ham is the king of all cured meats then mojama would certainly be the king of all salted fish. Looking at a cured mojama loin you will first notice its colour, a deep burgundy red. Once the loin has been cut into the inner flesh becomes a much brighter and vibrant shade of red and is highly aromatic with the distinctive hint of tuna.

Serving Mojama Tapas

Mojama should be served as thinly as possible, wafer thin for optimum enjoyment. Similarly to a good Spanish ham the thinner the slices the better the texture, thinly sliced mojama will almost melt in the mouth. The flavour of this salted tuna is strong, quite bossy and in Spain’s capital Madrid where mojama is a popular tapa the mojama is usually served with a short cold beer to mellow the flavour. As a Spanish delicacy that is best left to its own devices there are only a few complimentary foods that will work with this fish:

Tomatoes:
Fresh, sweet vine ripened tomatoes work well with mojama, chop the tomatoes and sprinkle over a little pepper or finely chopped sage with olive oil for a combination of land and sea.

Almonds:
Unsalted almonds also compliment mojama, there is a certain sweetness to the almond that helps balance the strong flavour of the tuna, accompanied with cold beer mojama and almonds make up a classy Spanish tapa.

Olives:
For those who adore Spain’s true flavours the humble olive will compliment your thinly sliced mojama perfectly, split olives are best or large queen olives, either marinated in herbs or simply plain.

Olive oil:
One of the more popular ways to serve mojama is to cut the loin thinly then lay the slices in a terracotta tray before covering with olive oil. The slices are left to marinade for an hour or two during which time they begin to soften. One ready the slices are served on fresh crusty bread drizzled in the infused oil.

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Mojama as an ingredient

Mojama does work as in ingredient, used liberally the tuna will add a delicious flavour to basic salads, try a simple tomato salad with cubes of manchego and shaved mojama over the top drizzled in olive oil, serve with a good Spanish fino sherry and the flavours of Spain are undeniable.

A loin of mojama is purchased as a slab so it can be grated or alternatively you can cut off a thin wedge, divide onto three cubes and crumble over food. This texture means that your mojama can add flavour not just to salads but also dips – try crumbling in cream cheese, add some chives and a little garlic and you have a dip that will certainly get the guests guessing.

Mojama can be an acquired taste, if you enjoy your flavours strong and have a love of seafood then mojama will certainly deliver, flavours linger on the palate for a quite a while making this a cut of tuna that packs a punch. Next time you consider a pasta dish instead of parmesan try a little grated mojama. Simply delicious!

If you wish to order some Mojama you can do so at www.orceserranohams.com.

© Copyright 2011 Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

Published 09 October 2011