Pre-made Mole. Blessing or Curse? Homage or Travesty?

The author is not receiving (nor has sought) any financial benefit or support from any of the products or companies mentioned in this Post.

This was my first exposure to mole in Australia. I found it in (of all places) a Filipino grocery store. Historically speaking this is not so unusual I guess as it was the Manila galleons that opened up trade between Asia and México. For 250 years silver and the botanical treasures of México were shipped from Acapulco to Manila. This all ended with the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1815 but the influence is still strongly felt today.

Achiote. Native to the Americas and likely to have reached the Philippines on the Manila galleons.
Adobo is a Spanish term generally meaning a type of “marinade” (either wet or dry). In the Philippines it refers to the dish itself.
Champurrado is a chocolate based atole. In the Philippines it is a rice dessert.

“Almost” Mexican products from the Mama Sita’s brand

Ingredients in Doña Maria mole.

This mole is a variety that contains cacao. The most famous of the “chocolate” moles is mole poblano from the state of Puebla. Mole poblano has become Mexico’s national dish and is a shining example of the cultural mestizaje that is México.

Dona Maria mole tends to be very thick, in essence it is a solid paste. You will need to add some form of liquid (generally chicken stock) to thin it down. The instructions on the label above omits this step. The mole will stick to the bottom of the pan and will burn if you are not careful. After sitting for a while the oil in these moles tends to separate from the paste and migrate its way to the top. You will often find a couple of centimetres of oil in the jar. If you are not using the whole jar in one go you can just add a little vegetable oil to the jar to cover the paste. This will extend its life and prevent it from being a solid dry brick the next time it’s used.

Ingredients in Mole Poblano. The ingredients are a mix of indigenous Mexican foods and Spanish imports. Items in bold are Spanish imports..

  • tomato
  • tomatillos (tomate verde)
  • white onion
  • cloves garlic
  • olive oil, or vegetable oil (or pork lard – manteca)
  • mulato chiles
  • ancho chiles
  • pasilla chiles
  • chipotle meco chiles
  • corn tortilla
  • blanched almonds
  • hulled raw (green) pumpkin seeds
  • raisins
  • baguette
  • small ripe (brown or black) plantain
  • unhulled sesame seeds
  • canela (cinnamon)
  • cloves
  • aniseed
  • coriander seeds
  • whole allspice berries
  • whole black peppercorns
  • chocolate
  • sugar
  • salt

As you can see from the ingredient list the premade mole is really quite different from one made from scratch. Not all premade moles are this basic though. I have come across this one in my travels and the mole I like to make at home is a version of this mole rojo teloloapense (1). The ingredient list above is very close to the one I use.

  1. Red mole from Teloloapan. Teloloapan is in the state of Guerrero in Mexico, about a 5 hour drive south west of México City.

Not all moles contain chocolate however (1). Here is the label on a pumpkinseed mole, often called pipian or mole verde.

  1. For further information on some of the varieties of mole See Posts What is Mole? and Pulque as a Cooking Ingredient (for info on Mole de Novia or Mole Blanco – a white mole)


If the store bought mole is the only one you have access to is there anything that you can do to zhoosh it up a bit?

I posed this question on Facebook and these are some of the responses I received.

I whisk smooth peanut butter into hot chicken stock and use that to thin my mole. Eduardo was a chef at a short lived Tex/Cal/Mexican restaurant in Fremantle in Western Australia. I consulted with him a couple of times when I first started cooking for my compatriots at the Friends of Mexico Society. He said that his particular “trick” was common in Mexico. The peanut butter adds body and flavour to the sauce, it smooths out the edges of the chiles and has a thickening action.

  1. See Post FOMEX The Friends of Mexico

Sandy Bolaños-Saenz
I like mine a little sweet, I use Ibarra’s Mexican chocolate; then add some oregano, and a little bit of toasted sesame seeds that have been blended and strained before adding.

Vanesa Yanez
My husband likes it spicy so I boil chiles guajillo, chiles de arbol, Chile puya, and red tomatoes, once that’s boiled blend the chiles with some onion and garlic. Strain that, and cook while you throw the mole in the blender, add some chicken stock (always from freshly cooked chicken) and throw that in the pot. The chicken stock usually has enough salt but if you need some more add Knorr chicken bouillon to taste! My mom does all of this too and also adds a chocolate Abuelita bar.

Knorr bouillon is ubiquitous in Mexican home cookery and calling it “chicken” flavoured is only half the story. It is a blend of salty, umami and slightly sweet and is regularly added to sopas and arroz. If your Mexican food is missing a “little something” then perhaps a cucharadita of Knorr might be what you are looking for.
Puya chilies, are long, thin, dried, red chiles. Very similar to guajillo chilies (but smaller, thinner and hotter), puyas contribute a sharp, fruity, somewhat tangy flavour to dishes along with a moderately high level of heat.

Tanya Perez-guzman It does have to be diluted so it’s not bitter, I use the seasoned water I boil the chicken in. Then add brown sugar, peanut butter & garlic. I prefer my Molé sweet.

Manuel Panuco Oropeza
I add fried saltine crackers, ground cinnamon and more chiles.

The first dish I ate when I visited México City. It was a chicken breast on nopal in mole. Note the saladitas. They were supplied with nearly every meal I ate in México.

Lebana Yornom
I usually make a red salsa, with either guajillo, pasilla and/or chile de arbol for spiciness add some cumin, some tomatoes, onion, garlic a little bit of maybe oregano. You can customize it however you like but make sure you sift it through a strainer to keep all the large particles out of the mole

Prepacked mole definitely has a place in your kitchen. It is an excellent introduction to this dish although (much like any commercially packaged product) it will never really be comparable to a mole that you create from scratch using fresh ingredients. You can definitely alter its character though by using some of the tips previously mentioned.

Mole shows up in the oddest of places. This was a video that came across my Facebook feed. It is about the industrialisation of agriculture post WWII. In one of the scenes a father is out shopping with his bebé when he grabs what appears to be a mole verde off the shelf. Note the rest of the Goya products on the shelves.

The Goya range of products has been in the news a little lately (July 2020) after the company’s chief executive Robert Unanue praised US President Donald Trump at an event at the White House. This prompted some Latinx groups to boycott the range. This of course prompted Trump to double down and express specific support for Goya.

Detractors of the boycott spun it as an attempt by the Left to further cancel Hispanic culture and silence free speech (particularly if that free speech was in support of the Trump administration).

And, of course, there was the inevitable meme war……

This goes some way to demonstrate the polarising and vitriolic nature of American politics (all politics for that matter). For information purposes however…….

Goya employs over 4000 employees in both the US, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It’s a charitable company which gives back to those in need through their Goya Gives program.
“Goya Gives” is a program to support various charities, scholarships, and events, and includes donations of products to food shelters and food banks during times of crisis, such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In March and April 2020, in response to the Corona virus pandemic, Goya donated over 300,000 pounds of food, or about 270,000 meals, to food banks and other organizations in the United States, and also donated more than 20,000 protective masks.
From June 1, 2017 until June 30, 2018 Goya partnered with Feeding America to launch the ‘Can Do’ Campaign as part of the Goya Gives program in order to help feed families in need and end hunger in the United States. Throughout the year, different product promotions were featured in order for consumers to purchase and contribute to the overall donation. In total, over 1.5 million pounds of food, which equals to about 1.25 million meals, were donated.

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