Mourning the Mole I never had
August 6, 2020 11:31 AM   Subscribe

One dish I never had while in the Americas was mole, and now I feel like I will probably not ever have that chance. Can you help me make a not entirely unreasonable version myself, within my limitations?

I'm in Greece and do not have access to any Mexican peppers, fresh or dried, but I can try to order online if it's not ridiculously pricey (sometimes it's not the item(s), but the shipping; sometimes the "international" places just don't ship to Greece at all). If you are in Europe, have you ordered ingredients for this dish successfully? Have you ever seen the dried peppers and spices assembled together for sale specifically to make mole? That would be pretty handy.

I'm probably most interested in mole poblano or mole negro (probably! I don't know! I'm mole-ignorant!). Do you have favorite recipes you'd like to share? I'd love to do something as-close-to-real as possible, but it might take a while to gather and research, so I'm also interested in any good shortcut / simpler versions that are less demanding as an interim thing. Do you have a version like this? I have local access to a fairly reasonable range of spices, but not much beyond maybe the bare basics for specifically-Mexican cuisine.

Also, I don't know what I don't know, so any tips about this at all will be appreciated!
posted by taz to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a mole lover living in England, we ordered ingredients for Mexican food from MexGrocer. They have a great selection including all the dried chilies etc you would need to make it yourself but they also have mole sauce and paste. It looks like the shipping fee to Greece is not insubstantial but it is an option!
posted by KatlaDragon at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I cannot speak to Greek shipping but was going to suggest, as KatlaDragon did, that you look at prepared mole pastes. probably not any easier to come by in your neck of the words but a lot simpler to deal with once you do (generally these can just be reconstituted with some chicken stock as needed).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:49 PM on August 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This Danish company ships Mexican foods throughout Europe. It looks like they have mole negro, for example. They also sell some dried chilis, though it doesn't appear they have all the different kinds you'd need to make a mole negro.

There are businesses in Oaxaca that ship various mole pastes, but I can't locate any of them online at the moment. Failing that, there are several in California that will ship to you in Greece, such as Guelaguetza, which is owned by a family of Oaxacan origin.

Glancing at Amazon UK and Amazon Germany, they do sell many of the dried peppers used in moles, but not all of them. I couldn't find chilhuacle, for example (they do sell seeds if you want to grow your own, though!).
posted by theory at 12:51 PM on August 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mole pastes (especially made on site ones from Mexican grocery stores) are one of the few things that is better to buy than to make yourself. There are sooo many very specific spices and chilies. Maybe a MeFite in an area with access to one can send you a package?
posted by ananci at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am also in Greece and craving Mexican food so I watch this with interest!

From the “easy way” recipe from the Seattle Times the only hard to find ingredient is ancho chilies. The rest of it is relatively Greece-friendly. Prob not the most authentic but you could fudge it?
posted by Concordia at 1:53 PM on August 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to get into cooking Mexican recipes in general, I highly recommend the cookbook of SF Mexican restaurant Nopalito. The salsa macha and carnitas are *chef's kiss*.

Here's his mole poblano recipe, his mole colaradito, and "tablecloth-staining mole".
posted by amaire at 4:52 PM on August 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Dutch company Westland Peppers ships to Greece and they're a great source of fresh peppers, dried peppers, and spice mixes. (I just received a bunch of poblanos, serranos, and tomatillos from them this week!). They carry a pretty wide variety of dried peppers, so depending on the mole recipe you use, you might actually be able to get the exact peppers you're looking for.
posted by neushoorn at 1:15 AM on August 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: neushoorn, thank you, Westland Peppers looks so wonderfully perfect, wow! Unfortunately, shipping is €28.95 to Greece, and with a surcharge for using Paypal, that comes to over €30 before the cost of the items, which I estimate would come to a very reasonable €15-€20. Altogether, though, it's more than I can really spend for this delicious experiment! :) (but wow, if I ever needed to do a bulk order for some reason, Westland would be my first stop.)
posted by taz at 5:34 AM on August 7, 2020

Best answer: What a great question! Out of a very in-depth research project of where to get Mexican food products in Greece, Denmark, Austria, Italy and Serbia, I have a few suggestions.

Athens - there is a chile pepper market owned by some big name chef downtown on Sofokleous street. It's between Athinas and the pedestrian street where the historic Bank of Greece is. It's tiny but it has a variety of dried peppers and some random jars of Mexican products (I bought huitlachoche there but it was like 20 euros).

Crete - This food importer based in Crete has a very wide range of products, best range you can find in Greece, and their shipping to Athens was very reasonable, quick, and they were an actual positive customer experience.

Gerakas - food importer La Tienda may be able to order mole sauce, but they generally have only canned jalepenos, chipoltles, etc.

Me? - As you may infer from this post, the topic of where to acquire non-Greek foods is a serious hobby. I happen to have a bunch of dried chiles in my freezer, from my trip to the US last summer, and I'll have to check, but I may have a bag of Anchos, if that's the pepper you're missing for the mole. If so, I'll be happy to donate it to your quest.

Vienna - Casa Mexico has a lot of products and when we were there in person, they told us that they could ship to Greece (but we were buying only heavy things so opted to carry on).

Copenhagen - there are several food shops that sell Mexican products, including the one linked above. We bought a jar of mole base last year at a specialty market in Copenhagen - and they had a pretty good selection. I can't remember the name of the store but maybe my husband will chime in with it.

Serbia, Italy - Tipota

p.s. also I didn't know that Concordia is a mefite in Greece, maybe we should plan a Mexican food meetup?
posted by perrouno at 5:53 AM on August 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

perrouno, this is the exact type of answer that makes ask metafilter a great place. flagged as fantastic.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:43 AM on August 7, 2020

Response by poster: perrouno, you are amazing, thank you! It looks like the food importer in Crete only sells to businesses, though? I made an account and tried to order, but they are asking for business and tax info (also no prices on products, so I guess the businesses ordering online are going from a catalogue or something). We will definitely check out the chile pepper market downtown! We're jammed up until the beginning of September, but I will update here with mole progress!
posted by taz at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2020

Best answer: I forgot about that part of the ordering process. You do need to call or email them for their prices and shipping, but they respond very quickly and you don't need to be a business.
posted by perrouno at 11:42 AM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Many a Mexican will buy mole in a jar. Making actual mole is an insanely long and complex process from what I've seen.
posted by tarvuz at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

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