If you read about original Salsa Macha, you’ll see that there is a reason for its name. Salsa Macha comes from Veracruz region that features extremely hot chile peppers comapeños available only locally. It’s a truly fiery condiment. When this salsa is made in other regions of Mexico, comapeños are replaced with other hot peppers (e.g., arbol). I admired this condiment not so much for its heat, but for the bold and intense flavors. To adjust it for my palate, I combine my favorite dry and fresh red chile peppers, which are fruity and smokey, but pretty mild.
An assortment of nuts can be used for this recipe — pecans, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts. I replace them all with hazelnuts for their rich flavor when fried in oil. The best hazelnuts available in the U.S. are from Oregon. Blanching and removing their skins is a lot of work, so go for already blanched ones. Sometimes I use dry roasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s and skip the step for deep frying them.
The same situation is with sesame seeds. Unhulled (whole) sesame seeds are available in specialty stores and frying them is tricky. The best way to do it is by placing them into a strainer and dipping it into the hot oil for a few seconds. Thus way you can be sure they are all fried to the same doneness, and there are no burned bastards (because they escaped and spent more time in oil) among them. Just like with hazelnuts, I sometimes cut corners with roasted sesame seeds instead.
Smoked salt elevates this condiment to another level, so I highly recommend it. I never add all oil used for frying ingredient into the salsa. I save it for other purposes. Adding fruity vinegar also helps to balances the fattiness of this salsa, don’t skip on it.
Make It Your Secret Ingredient
Unlike other salsas served in a bowl with a bag of chips, this one is so intense — a little goes a long way. Grilled sandwiches with melting Mexican cheeses and salsa macha are my number one way of eating it. If I want to keep it strictly Mexican, I spread salsa on blue corn tortillas or chips instead. Serving it on grilled Panella is another wonderful way to enjoy it. There is a number of non-authentic culinary applications I like for salsa macha — flavoring simple soups with it or adding to sauteed vegetables and roasted meats, etc.
This salsa recipe is part of Local Flavors: Mexican/Tex-Mex — Block 1, Salsas and Guacamoles cooking class. We always make it at the end, and I often hear my students saying it’s a bomb of flavors.