Black mole is one of the foundational sauces of Mexican cuisine. It is rich, umami-packed, silky smooth and complex. In many ways it is the perfect representation of Mexican cooking, reduced and distilled down to a versatile, delicious sauce.
What is mole?
Mole is a rich sauce from the Mexican tradition and is considered the mother sauce of Mexican cuisine. It is made from dried or fresh chillies, nuts or seeds, and is usually cooked over a few days to prepare. But the time is worth it, as it results in a deeply rich and delicious sauce that packs a punch.
What is black mole sauce?
Mole can vary in colour depending on the ingredients used. From green to yellow, often the colour is the result of the type of chilli used. The black colour in black mole comes from smoked black chillies, prunes (or raisins) and chocolate. Mole negro or black mole is thought to have originated with the indigenous tribes of the Oaxaca region, where it has been cooked for centuries. Some of the chilli that you can use for mole negro are - mulato, negros, ancho, pasilla, chipotle, guajillo and cascabel.
What does black mole go with?
You can add mole negro to just about anything, but typically it is paired with enchiladas, chicken, turkey, pork, tofu, tamales, tacos, roasted vegetables like whole cauliflower, stuffed poblanos and of course chilli.
How to make black mole sauce
This video from Rick Bayless is an excellent reference for making mole negro. The chef is quick to admit that he didn’t learn this recipe from his Mexican grandmother, but he is well known for the care and attention to tradition he applies to Mexican recipes, and this one, while taking three days to make, can be considered a great place to start.
The first day is all about preparation, the second is when the cooking happens and the ingredients are properly combined, and the third day is set aside for adjustments of flavour and consistency, to get the black mole just right.
Some mole recipes can include up to 40 different ingredients but this one just calls for the basics. So get roasting those chillies and let this recipe take you to Oaxaca.
Lives with Flavor charts the Mexican chef's rise from small town in Mexico along his perilous journey to the US as an illegal immigrant to his restaurant Mexique in Chicago and the first Michelin star won by a Latin American chef.