Mole (pronounced MOH-lay), which originated in Mexico, is generally used in the U.S. to describe a particular type of sauce with earthy, vibrant flavors. It is believed that chocolate is the ingredient that has come to define mole, but did you know there are over 40 different forms of mole? Yes, and some of them don't even include chocolate!

Mole "Sauce" Is Redundant

The word "mole" is derived from the Aztecs' molli (or mulli), which just means So if you hear your friends referring mole as "mole sauce," feel free to tell them they're redundant.

According to an article, a mole is a fusion of New-World, and Old-World flavors since the sauce typically involve chocolate, fruit, and several spices. Chocolate may be the star of the sauce, but its flavor should never dominate.

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So, What's Exactly in Mole?

This intricate and flavorful sauce may vary according to the ingredients used, but in general, it is made from a mix from five different categories: chiles which are at least two different types; sour from tomatoes or tomatillos; sweet from dried fruits or sugar; spices; and finally, thickeners such as bread, nuts or seeds. These ingredients are combined and made into a paste to create the final output, which is mole, a thick, dense sauce that should never be runny.

Below are the types of moles and their ingredients:

  • Mole Negro (dark brown, almost black) - dried chilies, whole smoky spices, a Mexican herb hoja santa, and lots of dark unsweetened chocolate.
  • Mole Poblano (reddish-brown) - pasilla chiles, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and coriander
  • Mole de Cacahuate - features peanuts instead of chocolate
  • Mole Dulce - with bananas and plantains
  • Pipián - features ground squash seeds
  • Mole Verde - highlights fresh herbs and tomatillos
  • Mole Manchamanteles (or "tablecloth-staining mole") - uses apples and pineapples.

You can use mole as a simple finishing sauce for baked chicken, steak, pork, tofu, etc. You can also drizzle your roasted or sautéed veggies, rice, and beans with mole for extra flavor.

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How to Make It

If you have the time, it's worth the effort to make your own Mole Poblano, which could take hours (sometimes even days) to prepare, with as many as 30 individual ingredients prepped in different ways. The ingredients are ground together into a powder or a paste that creates a seamless layering of complex flavors.

But thanks to online shopping, you can make this easier, and you can also order a few different varieties of authentic mole paste from Mexico, to begin with. Mix one part of the pre-made paste with three parts water or broth, bring it to a boil while stirring (or whisking), then let it simmer it for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. You can add more liquid if necessary, but remember, your finished sauce should be dense and not runny.

Sure, making mole is a tedious process, so once this quarantine period is over, you can look forward to visiting these top 15 places for mole in Los Angeles:

1. Guelaguetza Restaurant

2. Los Anaya Authentic Mexican Food

3. Monte Alban

4. Guisados (2100 E Cesar E Chavez Ave) 

5. Guisados (1261 W Sunset Blvd)

6. Cacao Mexicatessen

7. Pinches Tacos

8. Bar Amá

9. Gish Bac

10. Tortilla Republic

11. Sage Organic Vegan Bistro

12. El Jacalito

13. Sabores Oaxaqueños

14. Pinches Tacos

15. Town Pizza

READ MORE: Where to Get Homemade Tortillas in Houston