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Laksa

Mole sauce

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Last night, I had Enchilada con mole at a local neighborhood Mexican restaurant. This was the first time I've ever tasted mole sauce, so I had no idea what to expect. The color was a dark brown, and my first impressions were that it was bitter, smoky and sweet. The flavor was strong, perhaps overly so. Curiously enough, the sauce was not spicy at all, and only slightly salty. However, the bitterness pretty much dominated the dish as I was not able to taste the ground beef filling of the enchilada.

My question is... how should a good mole sauce be? Is it unusual to have such a strong tasting sauce for enchilada? I'm curious because I am not sure if I just had a poor rendition of the sauce or, that was just the way it's supposed to be.

Appreciate any insights you guys could give.

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Mole is supposed to *compliment* the enchilada, not overpower it..........sounds like the cook didn't taste it before serving!


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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There is a somewhat typical mole negro (that is what you describe sounds like) here. That will give you some idea of what it is supposed to be like.

Even mole negro should not have bitter as the main flavor note. I would guess that over toasting the chiles is the culprit.

If you do a search for mole in a recipe collection like Epicurious, you will find that there are as many different types of moles as there are curries in Thailand. BTW... the techniques for making moles is quite like the techniques for Thai curries. Go figure.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Wongste,

I'd bet dollars to donuts (or pesos to Herdez) that the mole used was Doña Maria, the most widely distributed pre-prepared mole that (as Fifi says) is a mole negro type with a touch of mole poblano. Ricardo Muñoz lists 40 (yes 40) different kinds of mole in his definitive Diccionario de de Gastronomía Mexicana.

Many of the moles are slightly bitter. None that I have encountered have the sweetness of sauces in many other cuisines. And they are rarely piquante.

Best,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I have always found the mole negros and rojos to be earthy and rich with layers of flavour and a smooth velvety texture. The key is balance, with the myriad of ingredients involved in making a mole, it is a great art in not making it too salty, sweet, bitter or spicy.

I had one the other day at a Seattle Oaxacan restaurant that was much too sweet and took over all the other ingredients that can make a tamal Oaxaqueno a sublime experience. My suspicion is that is was also from the larder of Dona Maria. A big disappointment.

I'd like to pick up that book by Ricardo. Is it only in Spanish?

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Hi Shelora,

I'm afraid it's not just in the US that many restaurants resort to Doña Maria!

Ricardo's book is only in Spanish. It's published by Clio who have done so much on Mexican food history. It's absolutely stellar. On moles, for example, for each of the forty he tells you the place where it is most commonly made and the ingredients. Same for atoles, same for tamales, etc. So you can make quite a bit out even if you don't speak Spanish. Plus hundreds of entries on individual dishes and ingredients (with all the necessary Latin names). Plus splendid color illustrations.

You might be able to get it at a price from Harold Karno books. It was originally $40 here, a bargain. I was out of the country when it first appeared, by the time I had returned it was out of print, and after searching everywhere I managed to pick up a new copy at a book fair for $20. One of those happy days,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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On moles, for example, for each of the forty he tells you the place where it is most commonly made and the ingredients.

I would swear that I have seen a "map of moles" somewhere. (Or did I dream that up.) :huh:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I've not seen one but I would love to. It would be perfect for those computer overlays. I'd like to see lots of Mexican food mapped. And there's so much research going on in Mexico at the moment on Mexican food that there will probably be some soon,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I recently had the enormous pleasure of a private cooking class with a local woman who taught me how to make her great-grandmother's mole dulce, a sweet, reddish-brown mole which includes among its many ingredients four bananas--two regular ones and two plátanos machos, including the peels of all four.

Doña Socorro prepares the mole with carne de cerdo. The preparation takes approximately 7 hours (just the cooking time) and made my eyes cross with its complexity of preparation and steps.

The cooking takes place in a clay cazuela, including constant stirring with a huge wooden cucharón (spoon) to keep the mole from sticking or thickening in lumps. She cautioned me that only one cook should stir it, because if two cooks stirred it, the mole would break. She and her compañera de la cocina took turns stirring the pot, however. She told me that she and her friend were so familiar with one another's methods that it was as if one hand were stirring the pot.

This was the first truly sweet mole I'd tasted. I prefer mole poblano or a great Oaxacan black mole, but it was an honor to watch this old recipe in preparation.

PS: Rachel, I tried to answer your PM yesterday but the #$%# machine wouldn't let me send you one. Grrrrr. :blink:


What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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Hmm, so there are sweet moles. Is it a southern recipe? Or like a manchamanteles?

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Oh, and it occurs to me that there are gorgeous photos of four kinds of mole taken by Mexico's great food photographer Ignacio Urquiza in an article I just published. There's a link to it in the News and Media forum,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I agree with Caroline. Probably a jarred mole, most likely Dona Maria. I thought I hated mole for years before I went to a restaurant where they were made from scratch. I still know and hate that bitterness. I think it takes an adept hand to make a good one using the jarred stuff.

You can't really say what a mole should taste like because there are so many. Some are earthy, some are sweet, some are herby, but all have the flavor of chiles, that I know of, as a major component.

I think the best beginner mole (to eat) is a manchamanteles because it's a little sweet and fruity. But good luck finding one at any typical Mexican restaurant. You're in NY, right? Zarela Martinez has a duck dish in it. I've never been to her restaurant, but I'd love to try it.

PS "Mole Sauce" is actually redundant. Mole, like salsa, means sauce, basically.


Edited by ExtraMSG (log)

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The mole dulce that Doña Socorro makes is neither southern nor a

manchamanteles. It's just mole as made by her great-grandmother, who lived in Jalisco. The list of ingredients is long and complex, including everything from bay leaves to cloves to chocolate, plus chiles, both guajillo and ancho--and then those four bananas (sliced in rounds) and their skins. Those go in at the very last, after all the other ingredients are already simmering. They pretty much dissolve into the sauce during the long simmering/stirring process. The skins, on the other hand, have to be fished out at the end just prior to serving.


What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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I agree with Caroline. Probably a jarred mole, most likely Dona Maria. I thought I hated mole for years before I went to a restaurant where they were made from scratch. I still know and hate that bitterness. I think it takes an adept hand to make a good one using the jarred stuff.

You can't really say what a mole should taste like because there are so many. Some are earthy, some are sweet, some are herby, but all have the flavor of chiles, that I know of, as a major component.

I think the best beginner mole (to eat) is a manchamanteles because it's a little sweet and fruity. But good luck finding one at any typical Mexican restaurant. You're in NY, right? Zarela Martinez has a duck dish in it. I've never been to her restaurant, but I'd love to try it.

PS "Mole Sauce" is actually redundant. Mole, like salsa, means sauce, basically.

Many "good" moles are supposed to be somewhat bitter, and not sweet. Dona Maria may not be a prime example, but it's not bad simply because of the absense of sweet and the presense of "bitterness". It's an adaption--an aquired taste. Of course, some people never adapt, some people instantly adapt, and some do over time.

Of course, 90% of the time when people SAY "mole"--at among the non-native-spanish speaking restaurant-going crowd, they mean Mole Poblano whether they know it or not. Or as it's sometimes called "that mexican sauce with the chocolate in it that doesn't taste like chocolate". :laugh: Cause you know... sugar's too far down the ingredient list for many people.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Esperanza, A friend of mine with a Oaxacan mother-in-law invites me to the mole making every Christmas. I'm afraid that I don't hve your stamina. I just wilt at the idea of a whole day devoted just to making the mole. Takes slow food to a whole new level. But your recipe sounds delicious even if time-consuming.

And I think I'd be inclined to agree with jhlurie that many moles are meant to have bitter amongst the spectrum of tastes.

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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It's different, though, Jon. I've had plenty of decent mole poblanos and it's just not the same. It's like tasting an enchilada sauce from the can that has a tinny and burnt chile flavor, like Old El Paso, vs one made fresh. Many people might never think they like enchiladas if that was their only experience. Another example is good wine vs 2 buck chuck. I'm not much of a fan of wine, but when I've had wine that people consider awesome, I could at least understand why they liked it. But I shudder when I take a sip of the $5-10 bottles from the local grocery store. There's an acquired taste, and then there's an acquired taste someone has to burn your tongue with a searing hot poker before you can palate it.

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I have no experience of tasting or of making "real" Mexican food but I did once make a mole from a fairly complicated recipe and was amazed by the sheer complexity of the taste. Since then I have made one using the stuff in the jar and even my totally inexperienced palate could not stand the stuff.

I think those of us who have limited opportunity to sample well-made dishes from other cuisines often end up saying things like, "Oh, I don't like Indian or I don't like Mexican" when we really have no experience of either. :sad:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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After making Zarela Martinez' mole negro, I finally understood the concept of layers of flavor - as Anna N said it, "amazed by the sheer complexity of the taste."

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You can't really say what a mole should taste like because there are so many.  Some are earthy, some are sweet, some are herby, but all have the flavor of chiles, that I know of, as a major component.

I think the best beginner mole (to eat) is a manchamanteles because it's a little sweet and fruity.  But good luck finding one at any typical Mexican restaurant.  You're in NY, right? Zarela Martinez has a duck dish in it.  I've never been to her restaurant, but I'd love to try it.

PS "Mole Sauce" is actually redundant.  Mole, like salsa, means sauce, basically.

The mole I tasted had very little chile flavor. Thinking back, I think the sauce had bitterness and sweetness in equal measure.

I don't mind bitterness in my food. Actually I grew up eating bitter gourds (bitter melons) and Chinese bitter greens (not sure what it is in English). I guess what I'm not used to is the bitterness of chocolate/cocoa and the accompanying sugary sweetness. I think my tastebuds weren't sure if I was having a savory course or a chocolate dessert.

However, I am very intrigued by it. I've been told that chocolate can be used in non-dessert dishes (probably gleaned from watching Chocolat), but I hadn't tasted one till now.

I am in Poughkeepsie, NY. Not exactly a place well known for its Mexican cuisine :smile:.

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Actually perhaps it should be added that whatever the quality of some of the products on the market, including the huge plastic buckets of the paste in every supermarket, mole is a great candidate for jarring since it keeps so well and is so laborious to make.

In fact in my experience (input from others please) most towns have a woman or women who make high quality mole and sell it in plastic bags on street corners or in or near the market. Discerning housewives buy this and simply dilute it with a light broth from whatever they are going to pour it over.

Some good ones are coming on the market too. I can't remember the name of the brand that is sold in the gourmet department of department stores but I'll check it tomorrow.

Best,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Actually perhaps it should be added that whatever the quality of some of the products on the market, including the huge plastic buckets of the paste in every supermarket, mole is a great candidate for jarring since it keeps so well and is so laborious to make.

In fact in my experience (input from others please) most towns have a woman or women who make high quality mole and sell it in plastic bags on street corners or in or near the market. Discerning housewives buy this and simply dilute it with a light broth from whatever they are going to pour it over.

Some good ones are coming on the market too. I can't remember the name of the brand that is sold in the gourmet department of department stores but I'll check it tomorrow.

Best,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Whoops, sorry, got interrupted and hit the add reply button twice by mistake,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Last time I checked, Mayordomo - that wonderfully popular chocolate and mole producer in Oaxaca - came out with their moles in jars for the U.S. market.

I have purchased them when in Oaxaca, in plastic tubs. They sell the rojo and the negro. Top quality, depth of flavour, very balanced.

I believe it was someone in Chicago that started bringing them in. Hope they are still available, an excellent product.

shelora

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Last time I checked, Mayordomo - that wonderfully popular chocolate and mole producer in Oaxaca - came out with their moles in jars for the U.S. market.

I have purchased them when in Oaxaca, in plastic tubs. They sell the rojo and the negro. Top quality, depth of flavour, very balanced.

I believe it was someone in Chicago that started bringing them in. Hope they are still available, an excellent product.

shelora

Never ordered from the website or tried the Mayordomo mole, but gourmet sleuth sells it on-line here

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