Mole – pronounced: molé – is a typical Mexican sauce with many variants. In any case, each version is spicy due to the addition of chili pepper and gives dishes a wonderfully rich taste. Now that we see this special sauce popping up more and more, it’s time for a lesson in mole.
Most types of mole consist of more than twenty (!) ingredients, varying from onions, tomatoes, (dried) chili, raisins, almonds, herbs, seeds, chocolate and even tortillas. The trick is to find the perfect balance between all these ingredients, if you can do that you have a great tasty sauce.
There is therefore no one type: the sauce is made differently in every city and region and by every chef. One keeps it simple, the other goes for complex. The color can also differ enormously: red, brown, green, yellow and all shades in between.
Perhaps the most famous mole is that of chef Enrique Olvera, who runs restaurants like Pujol (in Oaxaca) and Cosme (in New York). He created a dish called ‘Mole madre, mole nuevo’, where you only get two circles of sauce on your plate: one dark brown and one red. You get fresh tortillas to dip the sauce with.
Typically such a dish that you can’t hide behind as a chef: something seemingly simple must taste damn good. So believe that Enrique’s sauce is anything but simple to make. In fact, it cannot be imitated. That’s because they keep using the original mole — the first batch they ever made at the restaurant — endlessly. It is heated every day and ‘fed’ every two days with a new mole of seasonal ingredients and flavors. This way you get an incredibly complex sauce.
No, then you will encounter Mole poblano more often: after all, that is the most well-known species. If you see mole anywhere on a menu, it is most likely this variant, which is made with cinnamon and a good dose of chocolate . It may sound crazy, but the chocolate isn’t overpowering.
Instead, the chocolate beautifully balances out all the flavors and provides a counterpoint to all those spicy chilies. The deep flavors make it delicious on roasted corn or jalapeño , for example .
This sauce is often served on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and Cinco de Mayo, one of the most important Mexican holidays. You can make mole poblano yourself .
Black mole comes from Oaxaca, a Mexican state known for the large amount of different species. It is a lot thicker and richer than mole poblano and is often served with chicken .
Like most varieties, it includes chili peppers, onions, garlic, and chocolate . But what really sets it apart from other sauces is hoja santa. That means ‘holy leaf’, is an aromatic herb and grows in Mexico.
A little more difficult to get in the Netherlands, but it is certainly not impossible. Were you able to tap it? Then get started very quickly with making black mole .
Pumpkin seeds and tomatillos
Green mole or mole verde is the freshest variety of all. It is made with pumpkin seeds , chilies and tomatillos . This version is also the fastest to make, so if you’re in a hurry, this salsa verde recipe is a hit.
Because the sauce is not so rich but fresh and light, it is often combined with fish or shellfish . Like in this recipe with shrimp , delicious to serve with some fluffy rice.
Got an appetite?
Fancy a taste? We have seen the sauce appear more and more recently, for example on the menus of restaurants in our country. For example, the Amsterdam restaurant Daalder currently serves a dish of duck (from the Big Green Egg) with a mole with cumin and cocoa. And it is also on the menu at MasMais : with a taco with celeriac, chopped almonds and spring onion.
Prefer to get started yourself? Simple recipes include these enchiladas with butternut squash mole or Jamie ‘s ultimate chicken fajitas with mole sauce . We also recommend the recipe in the video below.
More Mexican recipes
- Roasted parsnips with simple Mexican mole and salsa
- Mexican corn on the cob with chili and cheese
- Mexican stew (barbacoa) with polenta