You might think that there are loads of salsa recipes in old Mexican cookbooks, but I can tell you that there are hardly any salsas to speak of. I have cookbooks going back to the year 1845, and the few salsa recipes that they feature are French: Bechamel, Bernaise, and hundreds of entries under the name salsa blanca or white sauce, a basic roux.
All cook books from the turn of the century were written for the lady of the house, who was trying desperately to show how elegant and sophisticated she was. Raviolis, blanc-mange, fricasees and port wine jellies were proof of her good taste, and those were the recipes she wanted to know. Dinner parties with tacos or caldo would have been too homely to ever consider. Save those meals for family night. Occasionally, these books will include a recipe for mole or enchiladas, especially the ones written after the 1930’s. But in the oldest Mexican cook books I have read or collected, they include precious few authentic Mexican salsa recipes.
I spent some time this week looking for an old recipe for Salsa Macha, but the best reference I could find was a recipe of Rick Bayless. Rick is an amazing chef, and when in doubt, he is the “go to” guy who has recorded Mexico’s recipes accurately, and has tailored them for the US household.
But the one that inspired this post is my friend Iliana de la Vega, whose house made Salsa Macha is my favorite salsa ever. I don’t get to see her as often as I like, but her salsa macha that she sells at her restaurant, El Naranjo in Austin, Texas is one of the best around.
This is my version of salsa macha, but just know that if you are looking to cross reference with other chefs, look to the modern Mexican masters that are close by. They have got their salsa recipes down pat.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 min
- Total Time: 7 minutes
- Yield: 144 servings
- Category: Sauces
- Method: No Cooking Required
- Cuisine: Mexican
2 cups olive oil (480ml)
4 oz. dried chiles*, stems removed
5-6 cloves peeled garlic
1 tsp. sea salt (4gr)
¼ cup raw peanuts (30 gr)
1 tbsp. sesame seeds (10 gr)
1 tbsp. white vinegar (15 ml)
1 tbsp. brown sugar (12 gr)
Heat one cup (240ml) of olive oil in a medium skillet, until the olive oil reaches approximately 300°-325°F (148°C-162°C). Add the garlic and chiles, which should fry softly if the olive oil is at the correct temperature. Add the peanuts and sesame seeds. Turn off the heat but allow the ingredients to fry as the pan cools down.
Stir the pan carefully to coat the chiles and garlic evenly with the olive oil, allowing them to brown evenly. Carefully remove the chiles and garlic to the container of a blender. Add the sea salt, vinegar, and brown sugar. Add the remaining cup of olive oil and blend the ingredients until the mixture is a paste, but not a puree.
The ground chiles may separate a bit from the olive oil. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
I used dried chile de arbol (super spicy) for the salsa you see in the pic, but you can use other chiles such as dried pasilla (very mild), or dried chile chipotle (smoky & spicy), or dried chile ancho (very mild). You can even mix the chiles if you like. Just remove the top stem before your add them to the pan. Leave the seeds.
Keywords: salsa macha