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Apr 2, 2008 10:24 AM

Mole Chile Mystery: Chihuacle? "Oaxacan"?

About to dive into mole-making, trying out a published recipe for Cafe Poca Cosa's red ( But problems abound.
Problem one: The recipe calls for chihuacle chiles (alt. sp.: "chilhuacle"). I presume this means chihuacle rojos (as opposed to neros), but still, these are hard to find outside Oaxaca. Were this a black mole I could (it seems) substitute anchos for the chihuacle neros. But is there a good substitute for chihuacle rojos?
Second problem: The recipe also calls for pasilla chiles, but I find (The Food and Life of Oaxaca, Z. Martinez) that in Oaxaca "pasilla" doesn't mean what it means elsewhere in Mexico. In Oaxaca, it seems, "pasillas" are smoked. Now, it just so happens that I have in my possession some chiles I bought on a lark in Tucson a couple of months ago. They are labeled "Oaxacan Chili" (sic). Are they actually the Oaxacan pasillas? Could they be chihuacles? (I called the store-- answering machine.) I hope there's some wisdom out there-- neither Google nor my not insubstantial library have been much help!

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  1. I make a lot of mole, so with that said there are tons of recipes all over Mexico, and it's sort of like in US where everyone's Mom has a special meatloaf recipe they all vary but with basically the same result. So you can mix your chiles up. I usually use several kinds and if you bought chiles in Arizona they are more than likely a mild red and should be fine a lot of times the heat in a chile depends on when it was harvested and how much water the plant got that season, so don't make yourself crazy by looking for the exaxt chile a recipe calls for just keep tasting until it taste good. Another tip is it takes a lot of salt to get the flavor right. Mole is a true labor of love but so worth it ,

    1 Reply
    1. re: Analisas mom

      Exactly! I use my New Mexico chiles because it's what I have.
      The alklinity of the soil also affects the heat.

    2. Hi AW,

      Chill... I got your back. The Chilhuacle Rojo is vital to many Mole Rojo recipes... but you can substitue as follows:

      (1) Ancho + (1) Mora + (1) Pinch of toasted Avocado Leaf = 2 Chilhuacles Rojos

      Note, the Mora or Morita is the small red, dried not smoked, Chipotle... the smoked brown one is usually labeled Meco.

      To subsitute for Pasilla de Oaxaca (this is a bit tougher substitution but it will still be close):

      (1) Pasilla Negro + (3) Very Well Charred Gueros (Blond Jalapenos) = 2 Pasilla de Oaxaca

      3 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        And if you can't find any of the required chiles, put on Lila Downs' "Cumbia del Mole" and use what you have. This song will make you so happy, you won't care if you're eating mole from Taco Bell (Yeah, like that could happen).

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Awesome reply, EN. Let you know how things turn out!

        2. Please do let us know what combo you used. I saved the recipe for myself. Thanks for the link.
          I have a bunch of newly received chile powder from Arizona that I am trying. Now that I have the prerequisite pumpkin seeds I am ready to try another mole. The last time I made mole (having nothing else on hand) I used only sunflower seeds and we didn't like the taste from them that much.
          Now, WTF am I going to find avocado leaves in New Haven?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Scargod

            Scarman, you don't throw out your avocado seeds do you? Grow you own leaves! My avocado plant is named Arthur after the plant in Mad Magazine.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              You're right, of course. It's been so long since I did that.
              I've named mine "Moon Unit".

          2. You can special order them from Tierra Vegetables. They have a kiosk at the farmers market on sat.

            1. I just found Chilhuacle Rojo at Tienda de Cocina in San Antonio, TX. They do mail order, the web address is Tierra is a great source, I still get my Chilhuacle Negro from them though I don't live in the bay area any more. Excellent quality peppers, plus those hard to find specialty varieties.