it would be an understatement to say that in japan, there is no mole. to even propose the concept of mixing the flavors of tomato and chocolate to a japanese person is to give them an invitation to gaze at you in disbelief and confusion.
which in no way undermines the deliciousness (and delicacy) of mole. i won’t go into the history of it here, but it is one of the most ubiquitous sauces known to latin american (particularly mexican) cuisine. not all moles contain chocolate, but in my opinion, the best ones do.
- a half can of stewed tomatoes
- dark (unsweeted) chocolate
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- chili powder
- (ground) coriander
- something spicy (i’ll explain, don’t worry)
- peel and mince the garlic and onion. add some oil to a pan, and once hot, add the mince and sautee until transparent.
- add your tomatoes and some of the juice. the result will be a little too thick to simmer without danger of burning, so add a little bit of water. keep the heat medium low, and allow the flavors to cook together for a few minutes.
- add your spices. chili powder will give your mole a mexican flare, but the true stars of the show are cumin and cinnamon. don’t overdo it with either, because they are both super powerful, but their flavors will ultimately be what gives your mole the zing you are looking for. coriander is only natural. after all, it is the same plant as cilantro, one of the most amazing and widely used flavoring agents in latin american cuisine. this is also the step in which i added my “something spicy,” which was dried chinese hot pepper. before you jump down my throat, anchos and jalapenos and chipotles do not exist in japan. i made do with what i had. (if you can get your hands on anchos or chipotles or jalapenos, make sure to be careful using them. sautee them over low heat and make sure not to choke yourself out with the resulting nerve gas).
- keep simmering, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. put the contents of the pan in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
- put the smooth tomato sauce into the pan once more and gradual add pieces of the dark chocolate. here’s where i will be honest with you. japan doesn’t have super dark chocolate that costs less than your right arm. the chocolate i used, which i was well aware was not even going to be close the chocolate i would have liked to use, was labeled “meiji dark with extra cocoa,” and i highly doubt that it was even 25% cocoa mass by volume. despite my chocolate being almost the exact wrong chocolate for this recipe, it turned out delicious and smooth and well balanced. don’t do what i did. find a chocolate that is somewhere between 50% and 70% cocoa mass by volume. you won’t regret it even if it costs a little more.
- stir over super low heat. the resulting color should be a deep brown, or if you used a hearty portion of the appropriate chocolate, very close to black.
- pour into a bowl and dip whatever kind of meat you want. seriously, it goes with almost anything. chicken is my personal favorite, but pork is also a winner (especially if you feel like smothering some chops and giving them a nice long, low temperature bake in the toaster oven).