Tenerife’s Tasty Speciality of Papas Arrugadas and Mojo

Thu, November 4th, 2010 - By Andrea Montgomery

These potatoes are quite possible the best I’ve ever tasted” said my dad as he tucked into his second helping.
Coming from an Irish man, that was praise indeed.

Tenerife’s soil is rich in minerals and well drained which makes it great for growing potatoes; but the island gets very little rainfall and high sunshine hours which can make for poor water retention in the soil.
Over the centuries, the islanders have learned how to deal with this issue rather ingeniously.
Firstly they prepare the ground at higher levels in places like Vilaflor where the clouds roll in like fog and bring with them a fine mist. Then they line the terraces with pumice – a creamy-coloured, porous volcanic rock which is in plentiful supply on the island. The pumice attracts the moisture from the clouds and then retains it, giving the potatoes the perfect growing medium.

So it’s hardly surprising that one of the island’s most popular dishes is potatoes, and particularly the small papas negras which are like new potatoes; round and uniformly sized with a yellowish flesh. But what is surprising is the way the potatoes are cooked.
Two kilos of unpeeled potatoes are placed in an iron pan with just enough water to cover them and an entire cup of salt is added. The potatoes are covered and allowed to cook until all the water has evaporated. Finally the potatoes are shaken vigorously in the pan and then left to sit for a few minutes.

The result is papas arrugadas – salt encrusted potatoes with wrinkled skin. Arrugadas means wrinkled and if you look at beauty products on Tenerife you’ll see anti-arrugadas creams – literally anti-wrinkle cream.

Got my mojo workin’
Traditionally served with papas arrugadas and a real favourite with locals and visitors, are the green and the red mojos, or sauces, that you get in restaurants and hotel buffets.
Universally popular, every household, hotel and restaurant kitchen has their own way of making their mojo picón (spicy sauce) and their mojo verde (green sauce) and you can find jars in supermarkets and at the airport to take home with you.

The red mojo picón is made from red pepper, garlic, cumin, oil and water while the green mojo verde can be made either from fresh coriander and garlic which makes it the spicier of the two sauces, or from parsley, green pepper and garlic which is milder.

So when you come to Tenerife, try some papas arrugadas con mojo – I can almost guarantee you’ll be hooked and will be giving chips the big heave-ho for the rest of your holiday.
¡Buen Provecho!

Posted : Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 10:21 am
Category : food and drink
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20 Responses to “Tenerife’s Tasty Speciality of Papas Arrugadas and Mojo”

  1. […] We ordered beef stroganoff, pork fillet and what must have been a quite portly rabbit if the portion was anything to go by. Service was friendly and quick and the food perfectly cooked and attractively presented. Unusually for Canarian restaurants, main courses were accompanied by fresh vegetables –carrots, green beans and broccoli. For starters and main course for four, including wine and water, the bill came to a wallet friendly €60…and we’d been unable to finish the papas arrugadas. […]

  2. […] ‘unashamedly upmarket’ and having ‘restaurants that favour Canarian potatoes (papas arrugadas) over chips‘; the implication being that Costa Adeje was a cut above and more Canarian than […]

  3. […] of meats (pork, steaks, veal) that are grilled and served with chips, or the island’s speciality, papas arrugadas (little potatoes boiled in their skins) and a smattering of vegetables if you’re lucky. Basically […]

  4. […] I fell in love with Puerto de la Cruz all over again; a woman with a face as wrinkled as a bowl of papas arrugadas who had a submarine-sized cigar protruding from her mouth stared down at me from a poster on the […]

  5. […] bunny they’re likely to spot will be the one lying in a rich sauce on a plate beside some papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) in one of Tenerife’s traditional Canarian […]

  6. […] the properties overlooking it had been converted into restaurants.  We feasted on fresh fish and papas arrugadas with mojo, the signature dish of the island’s coastal region, whilst watching the boats bobbing gently in […]

  7. […] to shuffle off the beach at the end of the afternoon, and finish the day with traditional fish and papa arrugadas, as we watched the sunset. These days the eateries boast more variety, including a great ice cream […]

  8. […] Everybody loves herby verde and picante rojo mojos (sauces) that accompany papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) in Tenerife’s restaurants. Choose from a head numbing selection in […]

  9. […] I am making up for lost time by working through the reasonably priced meal menu. A tuna steak with Canarian potatoes comes bathed in a mojo sauce that’s not too harsh and a supple chicken breast with a good serving […]

  10. […] selection starting with bread, cheese, and olives. Next up were those wrinkly potato favourites papas arrugadas, and chips if preferred, with fresh salad, mojo sauce and green peppers bursting with flavour, […]

  11. […] exception, visitors to Tenerife fall gastronomically head over heels for the speciality dish of papas arrugadas con mojo (wrinkled potatoes with sauces). But if you’ve ever tried to re-create those delicious babies […]

  12. […] a La Espalda , a large cheeky sea bream falling off the bones to frolic with my old friends the Canarian potatoes. It was very filling and well cooked and as I devoured it I discovered a few more woodland […]

  13. […] things. When I first immigrated to the Canary Islands I tried everything, but, there are times when papas arrugadas and mojo just don’t fit the bill, and a craving for the familiar, especially the comfort foods you […]

  14. […] The menu is limited, with salads and traditional cheeses for starters and main course choices largely being of the fish and seafood variety which is common in places where the sea and the land has provided the sole means of survival for centuries. Meat eaters are offered a ‘meat menu of the day’ but being fish lovers, we stuck with the main menu. I ordered fish stew in a coconut milk curry while my lunch companions ordered octopus with sweet potato and cherne with papas arrugadas. […]

  15. […] settled the bill – a modest €20 including our drinks. So next time you fancy a change from papas arrugadas con mojo, send your taste buds on a trip to North Africa at  Al-Amir. They do takeaways […]

  16. […] The inside bar has some seating but even on a rare dull afternoon I was drawn to the narrow stone terraces. I settled on the lower one, the tide was just beginning to come in and the gentle thud of the waves was reassuring. Most of the expected choices of fish and chicken were there with some unusual variations like tuna or seafood sausage on the tapas menu and sardine fritters on the main menu. I fancied cherne but in its absence went for tuna and Canarian potatoes. […]

  17. […] with cheese, it was lovely and tangy giving me another option to go with my generous serving of Canarian potatoes. The half chicken had plenty of meat on it so I coated some in the signature sauce, what a great […]

  18. […] first time I saw papas arrugadas con mojo on a menu I immediately heard the treacle vocals of Muddy Waters in my head singing: “Got my mojo […]

  19. […] Chunky wooden tables, old wine barrels, corner seating and stools at the long bar give La Bodeguita that rustic country pub look while the menu is pure Canarian. You’ll find all the usual suspects of Tenerife tapas such as calamari, pimientos de Padrón and gambas al ajillo but you’ll also find some innovative creations. For example, we ordered campañez which was bite-sized chunks of cherne (grouper fish) on sweet potato beds topped with traditional red or green mojos. […]

  20. […] over put me in the perfect mood for the arrival of my large fishy friends with a generous salad and Canarian potatoes for company. It was lovely, the fish fell away from the skeletal frame and was light and tasty with […]

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