Mexican mole (pronounced MOE-lay) is a rich, complex, full-bodied sauce made with fruits, nuts, dried chile peppers, and spices. With a difficult-to-describe flavor, mole has become one of the most talked-about Mexican food mysteries. The word mole literally means “sauce.” There are countless varieties of mole recipes that families use throughout Mexico. Most have been handed down through generations. The ingredient list for mole can have anywhere from 20 to 40 ingredients and is dependent mainly on the local climate, which causes regional variations in food.
In the U.S., many people associate mole with the use of dark chocolate. And while it’s true that some versions of mole do include chocolate as an ingredient, there are more than 40 different types of mole that are made in Mexico that do not have chocolate in them.
Mole evolved in Mexico in primarily two states, Puebla and Oaxaca. Both states lay claim to being the creators of mole, and that’s an ongoing discussion. Mole poblano is Puebla’s most famous version of mole, which is sometimes also called the national dish of Mexico. This version of mole has a deep red color and is made using dried poblano chiles and cocoa. It has more than 20 ingredients and needs a whole day of cooking to give it its signature rich, earthy taste.
While mole poblano is reasonably well known in the U.S., mole versions from the Oaxacan region are considered more complex. In fact, Oaxaca is also called the “land of the seven mole.” The best-known mole from Oaxaca is the mole negro, which has the characteristic dark color that comes from the use of chocolate and dried chiles.
The seven Oaxacan mole varieties include
- Mole Rojo – This is very similar to mole poblano and has a reddish color. It makes use of the mulato, ancho, and pasilla chiles, along with raisins, almonds, or peanuts to thicken the sauce.
- Mole Coloradito – This is another red-colored mole that uses tangy guajillo chiles, chocolate, and mashed sweet plantains (to thicken the sauce).
- Mole Amarillo – This yellowish-red mole does not include chocolate and tends to be spicier than other versions. Masa harina is used to thicken this mole, and cilantro leaves may be used to add freshness.
- Mole Verde – The green mole gets its color from fresh, green tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers. Fresh herbs are used instead of chocolate to give it a bright, fresh flavor.
- Mole Negro – The most complex flavored version of mole, this black-colored mole is an absolute delight. Chocolate, cloves, cinnamon, and cumin are key ingredients here, and bread may be used to thicken the sauce.
- Mole Chichilo – This mole uses arbol, guajillo, and ancho chiles for flavor and heat and tortillas strips or masa harina to thicken the mix. It differs from the others on the list by using homemade beef stock as a base for the sauce.
- Mole Manchamantel - With ingredients including dried ancho chile peppers, pineapple, tomatoes, apples, pears, chorizo, peanuts, almonds, cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon, plantains, and chicken broth, this is a sweet and spicy, fruity mole that pairs well with roasted meats and tamale.
Mole Made From Scratch
But what’s the best kind of mole? The made-from-scratch kind, of course! Making mole from scratch is a labor-intensive process and is considered a true art form. Making mole at home is an event, which in many cases involves the whole family! Ingredients like guajillo, dried ancho, and chipotle chiles are blended with tomatillos, tomatoes, tortillas, and lard. An additional host of spices like cumin, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, and allspice berries are combined with exotic dark chocolate to create this mysterious but heavenly concoction. The balance of ingredients blended and simmered over several hours yields savory, rich, bold flavors indicative of mole. The aromas of these diverse ingredients permeate the air, making you hungry for some mouth-watering, traditional Mexican cuisine.
Best Ways To Eat Mole
Mole is a versatile condiment, or it can be the highlight of your main course. When used as a main course, serve mole over shredded chicken, and garnish it with crema, diced onions, and sprinkle some cotija cheese on top. You can also drench mole over tamales and enchiladas, drizzle it over rice or tacos, use it as a marinade for your meats, or try it for breakfast with scrambled eggs.
Mole is a Specialty Item at Sazòn
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