The Mexican state of Oaxaca is one of the global epicenters of preserved traditions and culture, including its cuisine. One of the most iconic of its culinary marvels is mole. In fact, mole is a representation of Mexico, serving as its national dish. The incredibly versatile sauce is a key ingredient in meals ranging from eggs at breakfast, black bean soup for lunch, and of course, the renown tlayudas, (otherwise known as Oaxacan pizza) for dinner.
What is Mole?
While the ingredients and uses vary, a common denominator in most mole sauces are chiles, specifically, Pasilla Oaxaca chiles. They are known for their richly smoky, yet fruity flavor.
Typically, when one thinks of mole, a deep reddish, nearly brown sauce known as, “mole poblano” comes to mind. While this is the most popular of the sauces, there are seven popular variations of specifically Oaxacan mole made from ingredients such as chiles, chocolate, and spices. Although recipes vary by family, they generally include the following:
- Mole Verde – Tomatillos are the key ingredient in mole verde, hence the vibrant green color. In addition, mole verde includes pumpkin seeds, cilantro, tomatillos, and jalapenos. This mole is commonly served with chicken, beans, and rice.
- Mole Negro – Mole negro is said to have a complex flavor profile as it has the most ingredients compared to its mole cousins. No wonder why it is the most difficult to make. It is said to have a nutty heat that is balanced with fried plantain puree. This mole uses the most chocolate in addition to cloves, cinnamon, cumin, hoja santa. Mole negro is traditionally served with turkey and other meats.
- Mole Chichilo – This variety has a corn flavor as it is made with ground tortillas and fresh masa. It is typically made of beef stock, arbol, guajillo, ancho chiles, and corn flour.
- Mole Amarillo – If you are looking for spice, mole amarillo is an excellent option. It uses native chiles found in Oaxaca – chilhuacle and chilcostle. Other chiles such as guajillo and serrano are acceptable as well. Mole amarillo is great with chicken empanadas and vegetables.
- Mole Coloradito – The guajillo chiles make an appearance in mole coloradito as well. It contains unrefined brown sugar, tomatoes, spices, fruits, nuts, and sweet plantains. This mole option is great for enchiladas and pork.
- Mole Manchamantel – The versatility of mole sauce is made apparent with this option. Mole manchamantel is fruity as it contains caramelized pineapple and plantain blended into a puree. It also contains tomatoes, and chorizo. Mole manchamantel is great with chicken and pork.
- Mole Poblano – Also known as mole rojo, mole poblano is the most common variety in the U.S. It includes mulato, ancho, and pasilla chiles along with blended raisins, almonds, or peanuts. This sauce is common for meat dishes such as pork and beef[i][ii]
If you love to cook with mole but do not have the time, or if you would like to try your hand at making your own at home, you can enjoy Oaxacan cuisine by visiting the Halietza shop to learn more about our products. We carry: Mole rojo (aka mole poblano), Mole Negro, Mole Verde, Mole Amarillo, and Mole Coloradito in dehydrated form, which makes it easier to cook with the flavors you are sure to love.