Foodies must be adventurous.
And adventurous foodies must try the Mexican Mole.
Take for instance; myself.
I first heard of this intriguing chocolate chilli sauce during this makan – makan gathering we had in Frontera. On the same night, Kevin, a very fussy fellow foodie, fueled the discussion by gushing non-stop of their ceviche.
And so that’s it. A re-visit was immediately planned.
Everyone’s excited. Everyone asked to be included.
But it took months before the re-visit materialized. Ah well, as expected it was difficult to get everyone together, yaydaydda…
Anyways, months months months later, we finally made it.
It was one balmy evening, & we sat in Frontera at Jaya One, and waited impatiently for our ceviche to be served.
AND THIS WAS DARN WORTH THE SUBSEQUENT VISIT!
Here in Frontera, our Ceviche used raw FRESH prawns which were cubed and left to sit in citrus juices all day. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, which is like the effect of “cooking” the seafood without heat.
At the serving hour, it was tossed with fresh cubes of tomatoes, onions and cilantro leaves.
(pretty much as per what I read – source: Wikipedia)
“In Mexico and other parts of Central America, it is served in cocktail cups with crackers, or as a tostada topping and taco filling. Shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and mackerel are popular bases for Mexican ceviche. The marinade ingredients include salt, lime, onion, chile, avocado, and coriander (known as cilantro in the Americas). Tomatoes are often added to the preparation”.
Our shrimps were cooked just to the right degree ( nice & springy), while maintaining some form of rawness within (its flesh still streaked with some blui-sh tinge).
This was a wondrously delightful perk-me up appetizer, with each cubed shrimp imbued with the sour refreshing tang of lime & absolutely addictive eaten with the crunchy nachos.
Sweet, sour and spicy at the same time, it was such a pleasant juxtapose of flavours!
Making mole is not for the timid. It requires a commitment to authentic ingredients as well as a commitment to following each step precisely and without taking any shortcuts.
With such a robust-multilayered flavoured sauce, the chicken breast was kept plain and simple. Each bite allows you to savour the complexities of the sauce and I gave up trying to pinpoint exactly the words to use to describe it after while!
Apparently, there are many versions of mole, and the one we sampled that night was one of the popular kinds from the Mexican states of Puebla, called mole Poblano.
Now, like I said, it is really hard for me to describe this choco – chilli sauce. The slight bitterness from the chocolate, which is discernible more as an aftertaste rather than a main flavour in this paste-like sauce, compliments & adds character to the dish.
I find it salty, & not as spicy as one would have assumed although mole is a made from a variety of chilies, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, sesame seeds, several types of nuts.
This last dish was an expected addition.
Tender Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast with San Antorio – style Cilantro Cream. RM26.95.
This dish was actually complimentary of Frontera’s gracious owner, Larry.
I had to admit, the mole really got to me.
The complex juxtaposition of tastes and flavours was really weird & I was scraping the mole paste sauce off my chicken breast so I could eat it plain!
Larry noticed, shook his head and said “I know what you Asians would like. Our cilantro sauce would fit the bill nicely. Would you like to switch?”
I hastily agreed. Why not, I thought. I get to try another sauce. And seriously the mole didn’t catch my fancy.
So my mole was sent back into the kitchen & I expected the staff to just add another ladleful of cilantro sauce to the dish. After all, I have eaten half of it.
But no, Larry graciously swapped my mole, with a full dish of his San Antorio – style Cilantro Cream chicken. That was certainly unexpected!
Anyhow, the San Antorio – style Cilantro fared slightly better for me, though again I find the sauce a bit strong, and salty.
But hey, it was one helluva experience that all foodies should attempt and Larry did let out that Frontera is revamping its menu so expect new dishes & more authentic Mexican offerings.
Now, anyone for a trip to Frontera again?
Frontera requires an advanced booking of min 3 days ahead (barring unforeseen circumstances & availability of ingredients) so give Larry a call if you are game to sample the mole (RM35) & Ceviche (RM38).
Frontera Bar & Grill
18-8-2, Block L, Palm Square, Jaya One
72A, Jalan Universiti, PJ.