Cooking with EL CHAVO!
How to make easy Vegetarian Mole

Okay all you lazy ass eaters that claim you can't cook, here's a recipe that is super easy, quite tasty, and will more than surprise your microwave-ready friends.  It's a simple vegetarian mole recipe based on the stuff you can get from the grocery shelf, done veggie style. Sure, you can probably grind your own chiles, seeds, nuts, and chocolate, but where's the easy in that?

First off, get yourself a brick of tofu and put it in the freezer for a few days. Freezing tofu changes the texture dramatically, making it tougher and chewey, perfect for this recipe.  You do not want to use regular tofu, it'll just break apart and you'll be stuck with some weird soup, yuck! Once the block has frozen solid, you'll need to thaw it out. Put it in the regular fridge a few days before you plan to cook and it should thaw out nicely, thats my preferred method as it seems to have a better effect on the tofu.  See how in the pic above the tofu looks kinda spongy? That's what you want as it'll soak up all the flavors from the mole sauce. Cut it up into decent size cubes or rectangles (or triangles if your kinda crazy) as you'll be frying these up.

You can start by frying up the tofu, putting it aside, and then cooking the mole in the same pot, but if you want to make it go faster, do them both at the same time in separate pans.  It's up to you:  do you want to eat faster or wash less dishes?

Get your pan hot, add some oil, get that hot, and then fry the tofu. I've become a fan of the old fashioned cast iron pan: they are durable, cheap, and cook food wonderfully as they distribute heat evenly. They're great for frying things, work just as well as teflon, and they don't release all those nasty chemicals lots of people are consuming nowadays. I got this one at Target for less than 15 dollars. And it doubles as a makeshift weapon! When the revolution comes, you'll be glad to have that tiny stock of kitchen arsenal! Fry until crispy enough, enough being totally subjective. You're a grown person, start using your decision making skills!

Now, start the mole part.  

I like to saute around half an onion, some garlic, and maybe a jalapeño, in some oil. Usually corn, never olive oil! Chop 'em up. But you might want something different.

When you open a jar of mole, there will usually be some oil sitting on top that has separated from the rest of the ingredients, just go ahead and add that to the sauteing onions.  Might as well take this time to talk about the available moles.

I usually just use whatever mole is cheapest or on sale, this time I decided to try out La Costeña. It turned out to be a bit too sweet for my taste, now I know. Rogelio is a good brand but it's usually pricier, Faron also has one that I think is okay.  There's Doña Maria as well which is good but I think that's the one that recently started adding chicken stock to their mole, boo! So you should make sure to take a look at the ingredients, as a few of them have some non-veggie ingredients. Most are okay though. Moles come in different flavors, from regular, to pipian, adobo, even verde which is mostly pumpkin seeds. You'll need to find the one you like, though the regular mole rojo is the most traditional. If you want some really good mole, head on over to El Mercadito on 1st street, they always have a few fresh moles available.

Use a spoon to scoop out all the mole paste from the jar. This is when you find out if your mole is fresh or old, as the fresh one has the oils still mixed in and is easy to scoop, older mole can get rock hard! In any case, you've already opened it, can't waste food, spoon it all into the saute pan.  Stir it around and try to break it down as much as you can.

You'll add water to this mix, do it slowly. Use the glass jar and add about 1/3 to 1/2 glass at a time, stirring the mole as you go. You want the water to incorporate into the paste, if you add it too fast you'll have chunks of paste under water that will refuse to break up, best to avoid that.  Slow and easy, ay! In the end you'll add around 4 or 5 glasses of water, maybe more if you want your mole thinner (I do) and even if you put too much, you can slowly simmer it to get rid of excess water.  Relax, this ain't rocket science.  Just stir so you don't burn it. By the way, it's common poor people practice to wash that glass jar and use it as a normal day-to-day glass, I bet most people that grew up in East Los know exactly what I mean!  Un brindis with the mole jar!

Now you can add some extra spices and stuff you want. Here I'm adding a veggie bouillon cube, and I just threw in a bit of ground cumin. I'll throw in some salt, pepper, a dash of nutritional yeast as well, and whatever other goodies are about. Make it your own, fool. Maybe even some more Abuelita mexican chocolate, go crazy! Just make sure you taste it as you go along, if you still like it, well then you are clear to go!

Once you've added all your extras and it's nice and bubbly, turn down the heat, puton a lid, and simmer it for awhile. Keep stirring to break down the paste, the smoother less-lumpy it is, the better. You want to be careful that it doesn't stick and burn to the bottom of the pot, keep stirring.

Once it's simmered down to a nice smooth consistency, add the fried tofu. The tofu will soften up a little as it absorbs all the sauce and flavor, but it should still be quite solid and crunchy.  Cook it for awhile so the tofu gets hot as well and it melds with the mole.  It's just about ready! By the way, you can also use reconstituted TVP in this recipe instead of tofu, and it'll work well. I still prefer the frozen tofu though.

Once you're very hungry and can't wait to eat, that's when you know the food is ready!

Add some Mexican rice on the side, some warm tortillas, and you are set. FYI, this is a vegan recipe as well.

Ahh, food fit for a peasant!  Provecho!

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Simmer me down to!