Salsa macha is currently walking the red carpet of condiments: she’s trendy, super hot – because two types of chilies – and she’ll soon be in your store too. Because although this cross between chili oil and peanut butter has been a hit in Mexico for years, salsa macha has only recently been on the map in the Netherlands. And surprisingly, not just in Mexican restaurants.
What is salsa macha?
Salsa macha is not a green drink like matcha , but a garlicky oil with chili morita (the milder chipotle) and guajillo (fruity chili with green tea flavors), sesame and peanut. Since we first ate it, on a warm tortilla in Mexico, we can’t stop talking about it. This stuff is maddeningly addictive.
Salsa macha is a bit between a chili oil and peanut butter. It’s crunchy, spicy and complex; pretty much all the qualities you look for in an ingredient (but also in a partner).
Literally translated, salsa macha means ‘brave salsa’, which refers to – you expect it – the spiciness. Although in most cases that’s fine. After all, the spicy chilies are muted by the nuts and seeds. The sauce has its roots in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Oaxaca and usually consists of different kinds of chilies and garlic that you steep in the oil. Then cook the peanuts and sesame seeds in the same oil and mix everything together. A kind of spicy nut butter, the result is insanely delicious!
Sometimes additional herbs and spices are added, such as oregano and cinnamon. But more and more different variants are appearing on the market. In fact, the only formula that is certain is: nuts/seeds + oil + chili.
Different types of
The Pura Macha brand from the US, for example, has very playful combinations that wink at salsa macha, but have actually become a condiment in its own right. There are the flavors: chipotle + coffee + peanut where three chilies are mixed with coffee for a good earthy kick. They recommend serving it with sweet vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes and with mushrooms.
But they also have a variant with arbol (chili) + nori + sesame and a fruitier variant with chili guajillo + cherry + cocoa nibs. In other words, if you are in the US: make your move and take some jars home with you.
Salsa macha with ants
You can also see that more and more restaurants are making and selling their own salsa machas, such as Salgado, the owner of restaurant Taco María in California. He has made a salsa macha with chicatana , which are crispy winged ants imported from Oaxaca that take the place of the peanuts and sesame in the recipe.
For many chefs, the sauce is a simple and versatile template that you can experiment with and eventually make it your own. Perhaps that’s why more and more non-Mexican restaurants are starting to embrace the sauce as well. Or because The New York Times Magazine proclaimed salsa macha ‘the most valuable condiment of 2020’.
Salsa macha outside Mexican cuisine
So now we no longer have to jump on a plane to taste the taste of salsa macha. Dutch chefs also welcome the condiment as an addition to their cooking vocabulary.
We recently ate it at Terroir in Utrecht , where the salsa was served with monkfish with pumpkin and roasted seeds. Divine! Cafe Binnenvisser , in turn, had dripped the salsa over a creamy cauliflower soup: smart, because the sauce contrasts and complements the soup at the same time. And at Le Coeur in Amsterdam they make a very nice – and quite Mexican – dish with fresh corn and pork belly.
Fun fact: at restaurant Pujol in Mexico City, one of the best restaurants in the world, salsa macha is one of three ‘house salsas’
Salsa macha on everything!
We bet that this macho sauce will come back much more often, because it is delicious on everything. From Mexican snacks such as corn, beans, tortillas and avocado (toast) to refined salads, as a dressing with pulpo, on grilled scallops, at brunch and why not: on top of a Dutch stew or cheese sandwich. You won’t get any more refined than this!
Want to make your own salsa macha? Learn how to do it here: salsa macha: the Mexican salsa you didn’t know you needed