Salsa macha originated in Veracruz, Mexico, with different variations in terms of ingredients and cooking method found all over Mexico, but it has recently become much more frequently used throughout the United States.
Salsa macha has been a staple of the Mexican pantry for generations. With no tomatoes or tomatillos in it, salsa macha goes against the preconception that many have about salsa. Translated as “brave salsa” as a reference to the spice level of some recipes, salsa macha is made with a variety of finely chopped dried chilies, peanuts, sesame seeds and garlic, which are infused in oil. However, there are countless versions of salsa macha made with other ingredients, such as cocoa nibs, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, shallots or onion, and chili powder, such as chipotle powder. Peanuts are traditionally used to make salsa macha, though the recipe is great with other nuts such as pecans, cashews or almonds.
The peanuts, chili peppers, garlic and seeds are browned in oil, cooled, then mixed with more oil and blended to a semi-coarse consistency and seasoned with salt to taste. Since it has a lot of olive oil, the chili paste will sink to the bottom after it rests for a few minutes. You can choose to stir it up and eat it well combined, or you can let it settle and use the flavored oil. It’s not just the flavor that is great about salsa macha, but also the crunchy element it offers as well as being a cross between a chili oil and a chili paste.
Salsa macha is a slightly spicy, nutty salsa, with a touch of tanginess that is used more as a topping for dishes. Salsa macha is incredibly versatile and livens up anything it’s put on by adding texture and depth. Salsa macha is typically used as a sauce to spoon over dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, or served as a traditional salsa served with tortilla chips. The salsa can add a roasted, nutty flavor and be used to improve everything from roasted vegetables, fried eggs, noodles, avocado toast, pizza, and even an ice cream topping. It can also be whisked into a simple salad dressing, used as a sweet dipping sauce, or used as a marinade.
Used as a topping, dip, spread, or marinade, salsa macha is a spicy, peanut and chile-based salsa that can be used on almost anything and everything for an added kick and crunch.