Papas arrugadas con mojo rojo (Salt-boiled potatoes with red chile sauce)

Papas arrugadas con mojo rojo (Salt-boiled potatoes with red chile sauce)

In contorno by Frank Fariello23 Comments

A little thing called a ‘derecho’ rolled through town last Friday and left us all without electricity (for three days) or Internet (for six days) so if you missed last weekend’s post, now you know why! Life is, more or less, back to normal now and, thankfully, property damage was relatively minor, so we’re back in action this week! 
I love potato salad in summer but, variety being the spice of life, I like to shake things up a bit now and again. One delicious option are papas arrugadas, or ‘wrinkled’ potatoes. I had them for the first time at a local tapas place run by celebrity chef José Andrés, and it was truly love at first bite. I immediately had to learn how to make them, and it turns out they are nothing but small, baby potatoes boiled with their skins on in heavily salted water until dry. Their skins crinkle up in the process (hence the name) and the salt forms a powdery surface. 
Perfectly delicious just like that, papas arrugadas are typically served with a sauce, or mojo, either red or green. Although I am very partial to green sauces, this time I went for the mojo rojo, or red sauce, made from puréed dried chili peppers, garlic and oil. 
Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side dish)
For the potatoes:
One bag (approx. 750g/1-1/2 lbs.) of baby potatoes, unpeeled
A large fistful of sea salt
For the mojo rojo:
A handful of small dried red chili peppers (chiles de árbol work well)
1-2 garlic cloves
A spoonful of pimentón (smoked paprika)
Olive oil 
Salt and pepper
NB: Many recipes call for a pinch of cumin as well, although I prefer to leave it out. 
Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover and a big fistful of sea salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then let the potatoes boil uncovered until the potatoes are cooked and the water has completed boiled off. (NB: If the potatoes are done and the water has still not boiled off, you can pour most of it out to speed things up a bit.)
While the potatoes are cooking, make the mojo: Soak the chiles in hot water to soften for a few minutes. Drain them, trim off the stems, and place them in a blender (or the  beaker of a hand blender) along with the other ingredients, including enough oil to come, say, halfway up the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl.
Serve the potatoes hot, with the sauce on the side for those that like it. 
NOTES: This is a great choice for a cookout or just about any time you need an interesting side dish. It makes a great part of a tapas meal (which is how I first tried them) and, as far as I’m concerned, served with the sauce they are interesting enough to serve as a light meal, along with some salad and a piece of fruit. 
There is also a green sauce, or mojo verde, that goes with these potatoes, made much like the Italian salsa verde, but with a bit of cumin and substituting cilantro for all or a part of the parsley. Some recipes will tell you to finish the potatoes in the oven, but I like the simplicity of doing all the cooking in  one saucepan. 
Papas arrugadas come from the Canary Islands, where they were originally cooked using water from the sea. If you don’t have access to sea water, lots of sea salt helps give a similar flavor. 
Post scriptum: Long-time readers may be interested to know that our little blog turned three years old on June 29. Hard to believe it’s actually been that long… This third anniversary comes along as we reached another milestone, 1.5 million page views, which means traffic is really picking up. It took us almost 2-1/2 years to reach the 1 million page view mark, but less than six months to get to 1.5 million. Thanks to all of you for your readership! 
Frank FarielloPapas arrugadas con mojo rojo (Salt-boiled potatoes with red chile sauce)


  1. Frank

    At Jaleo. They were pretty tasty! And congrats on your birthday, too. We're practically siblings… :=)

  2. Trix

    Did you have these at Oyamel? They look awesome, I am of course partial to anything with chiles. And happy 3 year birthday – mine was this July, we started around the same time. Here's to many more!!

  3. Frank

    Thanks for stopping by, Robert! Those well-baked potatoes sounds scrumptious. Just got a new oven so I may try them out today!

  4. Frank

    It was rather touch and go for a few days there… but all is well now. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Robert Bush

    Congratulations, Frank, on your well-deserved success with the blog. What would we do without it? It's my go-to place for the best ideas! Can't wait to try this potato recipe that reminded me in a way of a dish that was served at a recent dinner party where the small, red potatoes were cooked “hours” (don't know how many, maybe 2) in a hot oven. They shriveled a bit – no surprise to that! They were then drizzled with olive oil that they absorbed. They were delicious served cold. Regards – RB

  6. Ruth Martins

    Delicious tapa dish. They do a similar thing in Portugal only they roast the new potatoes until the skin is really crispy, covered in lots of sea salt and then 'punch' them so all the flufiness ooozes out, so to speak. Congrats on the last great 3 blogging years and the amazing number of fans. Well deserved!

  7. Lori Lynn

    Hi Frank – first of all congratulations on your anniversary and the successes that have come with it!
    Love this tapas dish, and adore chiles de arboles, so I intend to make this salsa soon.
    Joan made tapas for my 5th anniversary, so I'm happy to see a tapas dish here too!

  8. Spicie Foodie

    Hi Frank,
    I heard about the horrible storms. Wow, I think I would go mad without power and internet for all those days. Lol:) Your papas arrugadas look delicious! I haven't come across a potato recipe I didn't love. Thanks for sharing:)

  9. Frank

    Definitely unfussy! And definitely worth a try. They've become a stand-by in our house.

  10. Simona

    First of all, congratulations for all the milestones.
    This looks like a fun dish to make and eat. I'll try the technique: it looks simple and unfussy.

  11. drick perry

    I have not heard of this one and I should have 'cause I do love a good potato side – the simple red sauce alone sounds wonderful…
    and a BIG CONGRATS on your milestone – that in itself should be top billing, but then that also says a lot about you and your devotion to dishing out only the best… great job Frank, looking forward to the next three…

Your comments are always welcome!