I wanted to start off with some dates and reminders, and then share a super easy masa recipe with you. We’ll be talking about chochoyotes, my dad, and Mole Amarillo.
Our dates and days change pretty frequently due to personal reasons, kitchen constraints, self-doubt, Holidays, etc. I wanted to put all our upcoming September dates in one place so you can plan accordingly.
Pop-Up / Market Dates
Wednesday, September 15th (also the start of Latinx Heritage month) - Oakland, Preorder Pickups (Pre-order here) and limited walk-up masa at 272 14th Street Oakland
Thursday, September 16th (also Mexican Independence Day) - San Francisco, Preorder and first-come first-serve at the CUESA Mission Market, 3:00p-7:00p
Wednesday, September 22th - Oakland, Preorder Pickups (Pre-orders open on Friday 9/17, bolitamasa.com) at 272 14th Street Oakland
Thursday, September 23rd (my sister’s birthday, Happy Birthday Alex!!) - San Francisco, Preorder and first-come first-serve at the CUESA Mission Market, 3:00p-7:00p
Sunday, September 26th (also, my mom’s birthday! Lots of Libras in my life) - Berkeley, Preorder Pickups. Information will be announced via a newsletter later this month. I am so excited about this pop-up sale / collaboration!!!
Thursday, September 30th - San Francisco, Preorder and first-come first-serve at the CUESA Mission Market, 3:00p-7:00p
Recipe: Chochoyotes en Bolita’s Mole Amarillo (Estilo CA)
You can scroll down to get the Chochoyotes recipe (very simple and delicious masa dumplings) or continue reading…
My dad, Martin Benavides Galvan, came to the US in January 1986. He and my mom, Teresa, were expecting my older brother and were intent on creating a life in the United States. It’s hard to get information from my father, he is a rotund stoic man, quick to tease and laugh, but slow to reveal any personal information. Everyone loves him and he, along with my mother, is one of the two hardest working humans I know. He is currently the Vineyard Manager of a biodynamic winery in Rutherford. Most of the information I gathered about their early years in the US was told to me by my mother, a famously reliable narrator-- luckily, I have inherited my mother’s mental reliability. One day I will write my parents’ stories in greater detail, but until then, I will provide a synopsis.
My parents married in October 1985 and discovered they were expecting my older brother in December 1985. In January 19861, my father moved to the US and quickly made his way to the Napa Valley. Immediately, with help from other relatives living in the Napa Valley, my dad began working as a vineyard worker while living at the Campo Amarillo, the local farm worker housing, where several dozen men shared cramped quarters and a handful of bathrooms while working in the fields and vineyards of the Napa Valley. After several months of intense saving, working 10-12 hour days at “Red Barn” (later becoming Frog’s Leap Winery) my father was able to afford a 1 bedroom apartment in Napa and pay for my mother to come to the US. They lived at the Kenwood apartments in Napa for about 1 year.
Why did I quickly speed through my dad’s first several years in the US? Well, because of my dad, you all get to enjoy this wonderful Mole Amarillo.
To be clear, we are not Oaxacan. My parents are from a tiny town 1.5 hours outside of Guadalara-- they grew up in Cuqío, Jalisco. We rarely ate mole; we preferred goat birria. But, recently, upon visiting my parents in St. Helena, my dad handed me a 3 lb bag of chile Chilhuacle Amarillo.
Recently, as my pursuit masa has shown my parents that I am serious about making this project into some type of career, I have been bonding with my parents more deeply. We have conversations about them being “immigrants,” their ancestral home, their want to return home to Mexico. We share memories of otherness, growing up in the Napa Valley. We share recipes and food memories. We talk about farming. We share ingredients.
That 2-pound bag was my dad’s way of bonding with me as he knows how; silently and generously. He was given these chiles by an employee of his who is Oaxacana and had recently driven up a truck full of ingredients and goods. Among the Chilchuacles Amarillo, there were Chiles Costeño, Chile Chilcosle, Chile Chilchuacle Negro, tlayudas, fruits in syrups, so many wonderful ingredients. A few weeks later I was given two more bags: Chiles Chilcosle and Chiles Costeños. I knew I had to make one of my favorite moles, Mole Amarillo, or Amarillito.
The first time I enjoyed Mole Amarillo, it was served as a vibrant stew. Perfect for summer. Fresh corn was cut into rings. Large summer squash was chunked into bite sized pieces. Greens beans were kept whole. Chicken was delicately poached. Chochoyotes were simmered until tender and just chewy and light enough to remind you that masa is magic. The vegetables and chicken were cooked in the mole, rich with tomatoes, hoja santa and dried chiles. A beautiful, vibrant, light mole with bracing acidity and notes of toasted masa. I will not share my Mole Amarillo recipe just yet, but you should buy some in September- it will be gone from my menu when the chiles are gone.
1lb Bolita fresh masa (1 pack of masa is 1 lb)
3.2 oz (6.5 tbsp) lard or olive oil2
1 tbsp hoja santa, finely minced (not necessary, but a great addition)
2 tsp sea salt (we use Marisal Sea Salt for all of our cooking)
12 oz Bolita Mole Amarillo (Estilo CA)
18-24 oz broth or water
2 ears of fresh summer corn, cut into 2 inch slices
8 oz of Summer Squash, cut in bite sized pieces
6 oz of Haricot vert beans, or any other string bean, cleaned
1 lb chicken thighs, (optional) chunck-ed or whole, depending on how patient you are
Mix the fresh masa, hoja santa and salt, knead until the masa is smooth and seasonings are incorporated. Add half of the lard (or oil) and knead for about 1 minute. Add remainder of the fat and mix until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Bring the mole with broth or water, to a simmer in a large pot, about 5-6 minutes on med-low heat. Mole will thicken slightly and smell toasty. If adding chicken, add now and cook through. While the chicken is cooking, work on Step 3. Once chicken is done, take it out of the mole and let it rest on a plate.
With your hands, roll little bolitas of the masa mixture, balls about ¾ of an inch. Place the ball in your palm and, using your pointer finger, make a small indentation in each of the dumplings. Cover with a damp cloth towel to keep the dumplings from drying out as you finish the remainder of the chochoyotes.
Add vegetables to simmering mole and remove after 2 minutes. Place on the plate with chicken. One at a time, drop the chochoyotes into the simmering mole. Gently simmer for about 8-10 minutes, gently stirring every 3 minutes or so to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of your pan/pot. Depending on the density of the mole at this point, the dumplings may float to the top.
Add the vegetable and chicken back to the pot and warm through. Serve in small bowls with some fresh tortillas (doubling up on masa in one meal is a power move. You are powerful). Enjoy.
Things to Check Out
SF Chronicle Bay Area Conchas are all the rage.
Epicurious: Shrimp With Chochoyotes in Smoky, Herby Broth My dear friend, Christian Reynoso, is a contributor for the SF Chronicle and Bon Appetit. His recipe for chochoyotes in a delicious shrimp-y broth is worth checking out. So many ways to enjoy these little dumplings.
Edible Easy Bay Fall 2021: Tip Top Pop-Ups We have a nice little shout out in Edible East Bay!!
For more visual content, you can follow my IG @bolitamasa
That same month, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored his 34,000th career point becoming the only player to reach that milestone at the time (only two other players have reached this milestone, Karl Malone and Lebron James. Also in this month, the USS Challenger exploded. Just for my own context.
I use 20% of masa weight in fat for chochoyotes. For tamales, it’s a similar ratio but bumped up to 25%. Masa is great at absorbing fats, but not all fats are equal. Solid fats, like lard, butter or schmaltz, can hold more air and make a lighter chochoyote. I love olive oil too, but the resulting dumplings will be a bit denser.