Cooking Like a Mexican

White Mole
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

When we think of Mexican cooking, various ingredients and recipes come to mind, but only a few have the mysticism and history of our traditional mole (pronounced mol-ay). It’s true that mole is a Mexican invention, but there is a lot to learn and appreciate about the complexity of this dish. There is an impressive diversity in the color, preparation, complexity and changes that mole has undergone over time.

Mole comes from the Nahuatl word "molli," meaning sauce or mix. The refinement of this dish did not come during the pre-Hispanic times, but during the Spanish rule of ancient Mexico. This delicious dish has been enjoyed in several variations throughout history by figures of upper and middle class in Mexico. Some of the historic figures who are said to be mole lovers are Sir Juana Inés de la Cruz, Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota, and President Porfirio Diaz, among others. 

mole.JPGIt was in the great convent kitchens, during the times of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, when nuns (along with the natives) came up with the name mole and created the preparation process. There are many legends and myths about how mole was created. Some say that it was accident; that while a monk was dancing and fooling around, he knocked into the kitchen table and a bunch of ingredients just fell into a bowl.

I really disagree with this theory, because everything that has to be done to cook this amazing dish is far too complicated than anything that could happen just by boiling a bunch of stuff together. I think it was more a matter of trial and error, and that it took several tries before mole came to be what we know it as today. I also think mole has continued to improve over time, and along with maintaining the original recipes, there will always be a cook or chef coming up with some new idea that will continue the evolution of mole. 

There are many different types of moles, as many as there are regions of our Mexican republic. It’s safe to say that there is a mole for each state, and some of them have more than one. Oaxaca, for example, has eight different kinds.

If we look at the range of colors, we can find a mole in almost any shade. There’s the green mole, with its base of kernels and green tomatoes, and the yellow mole, made with yellow chilhuacles chiles. There’s also the classic and distinctive mole poblano, with its rustic and traditional dried chiles; the rich Oaxacan black mole; the original but not as well-known fruit mole michoacano; and a new, but equally tasty, white and pink mole poblano mole of Taxco, with its base of white chocolate and beets.

The mole we’re making today is a newer version of white mole. Its base is a nut paste that is similar to walnut sauce (the sauce used for the chiles in walnut sauce dish). This version has been adapted to be similar to its counterpart, traditional mole, just with the inclusion of white chocolate. This mole is sometimes used for weddings so it is sometimes called Bride’s Mole, and is becoming an increasingly popular dish.

White Mole (serves 10. If you’re going to go to all this trouble, make it worth it.)

Ingredients:

½ onion

3 garlic cloves

4 chiles gueros peppers (The chile güero is any greenish yellow chile.)

½ cup sesame seeds

¾ cup peeled almonds

¾ cup shelled peanuts

¾ cup shelled walnuts

¾ cup white pine nuts

1¼ cup coconut flakes

1 cup coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

White pepper to taste

1 cup raisins

½ plantain

1 cup white chocolate

Sugar to taste

1 tortilla

1 slice white bread

1 tablespoon powdered consommé

4 cups of milk or 2 cups of sour cream

½ cup butter

2 cups white wine

Chicken broth

Procedure:

1. Remove the seeds from the peppers. (Use gloves, the heat from the peppers can be irritating.)

2. Fry the plantain with a little butter.

3. Toast the tortilla and bread on a grill, but don’t let it brown.

4. Fry the onion and garlic in butter.

5. Roast the sesame seeds, peanuts and pine nuts, without letting them brown.

6. Boil the raisins and coconut.

7. Soak the almonds and walnuts in hot water for 15 minutes, and then peel.

8. Blend all ingredients, and then gradually mix in the broth and milk.

9. Fry mixture.

10. Add the chocolate and white pepper.

11. Add in the salt and sugar, if needed.

12. Allow the mixture to thicken, stirring continuously. 

This mole goes well with poultry and fish, so just place the cooked meat on the plate and pour the white mole on it. You can serve it with some diced or sliced yellow apple as garnish, or sliced peaches. ,