You think you know salty cured fish because you know your way around gravlax or lutefisk? Allow us to introduce you to the meatiest, most satisfying one of all.
What Is It? Mojama is an air-dried and salt-cured yellowfin tuna that hails from Spain, where drying tuna is a centuries-old tradition still practiced in Southern coastal cities. Thanks to modern refrigeration, salting and air-drying fish is no longer a necessity, yet it still exists because it’s profoundly delicious. The transformation is evident: bouncy, magenta-hued flesh transforms to deep burgundy-brown leather, with all the firmness of a hard cheese. The flavor deepens, as well: In its mojama state, the light fishiness recedes into something more shadowy, laying low behind salty umami flavor that never overpowers the tuna.
What do I do with it? Mojama is the prosciutto of the sea: It’s meaty and robust, and overusing it in dishes means you run the risk of ruining things. Keep it simple; make mojama the star of the dish by pairing it with subtler flavors. Grate mojama over eggs in the morning, shave it over toast with fresh tomato slices and olive oil for lunch or slice it thinly and serve it low-key with olives and Marcona almonds for an al fresco cocktail hour this summer. Pro tip: Anytime you slice or shave mojama, drizzle a bit of olive oil over top to bring out the flavor.
First things first: You have to find some mojama to call your own. Your best chance at locating it around town is at your local international market or specialty food store. Check places that deal in higher-end meats and cheeses. If you strike out, it’s easy to find online at specialty food retailers, especially those focused around Spanish and Mediterranean delicacies. Look for it sold in a solid chunk and pass on the pre-sliced stuff, as it’s not as versatile.