‘MasterChef Junior’s Aarón Sánchez Channels His Heritage & Shares His Adobo Recipe


Tonight’s special: roots!

The kid contestants on MasterChef Junior concoct meals that reflect their heritage — a standard practice for judge Aarón Sánchez. “I feel such pride in my legacy,” says the chef, who infuses his own Mexican and Creole creations with freshly toasted and ground spices.

This adobo is his nod to family tradition, he says. “My mom and grandma made base recipes…that gave everything flavor and depth.”


Makes approximately 1½ cups


¼ cup cumin seeds
¼ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
2 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and torn into small pieces
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and torn into small pieces
½ cup dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
¼ cup Spanish paprika (pimento), preferably sweet or hot

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1. Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the cumin, coriander, fennel and mustard seeds along with the pieces of pasilla and ancho chiles. Toast, stirring constantly, until it’s very aromatic and just begins to smoke, approximately three minutes.
2. Dump the mixture onto a plate and let it cool to room temperature. Grind it to a fine powder in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder.
3. Put the powder in a large bowl and add the oregano, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Stir them really well to combine.
4. Store the adobo in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in a cool, dark place for up to a month.

MasterChef Junior, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox