Sauces Used in Mexican Restaurants

6 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Going Out on the Town in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Some people say that the sauces truly make Mexican dinners special. Choosing an entrŽe is much easier when you know what the Spanish names of the various sauces mean and how various sauces on a restaurant menu taste. Served hot or cold, they’re always spicy.

Mexican moles

Mole (moh-leh), a word used in Mexico, means “sauce.” Moles are served hot (as in temperature), and have varying degrees of spiciness. These Mexican moles are served with meats and chicken:

  • Mole negro (moh-leh neh-groh) (black mole) looks black — naturally! — and is made with all toasted ingredients: cocoa, chilies, almonds, onions, garlic, and bread. It can be very spicy or less so.

  • Mole colorado (moh-leh koh-loh-rah-doh) (red mole) looks red and is made with chilies. It is spicy hot! The sauce is also called coloradito (koh-loh-rah-dee-toh).

  • Mole amarillo (moh-leh ah-mah-ree-lyoh) (yellow mole) is orange-yellow. You make it with almonds and raisins, among other ingredients. Generally, it is only mildly spicy.

  • Mole verde (moh-leh bvehr-deh) (green mole) is made with green tomatoes, green chilies (hot peppers), and coriander (cilantro) and looks green. It can be very spicy or mildly hot.

Cold sauces for seasoning

Mexican restaurants also bring some cold sauces to the table to add more spice to your food.

  • Pico de gallo (pee-koh deh gah-lyoh), which translates as “rooster’s beak,” is made totally with vegetables. It looks red, green, and white because it’s made with tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, coriander (cilantro), and onions. Hot!

  • Guacamole (gooah-kah-moh-leh) needs no translation. It’s the dip made with avocado, chili (chee-leh) or “hot pepper,” coriander (cilantro), lemon, and salt. It’s sometimes spicy hot.

  • Salsa verde (sahl-sah bvehr-deh) is a green sauce made with green tomatoes, chilies, and coriander. Hot!

  • Salsa roja (sahl-sah roh-Hah) is a red sauce made with red tomatoes and chilies. Hot!

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The Essentials of Going Out on the Town in Spanish-Speaking Countries

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