Salsa macha offers complex flavors | Tucson Restaurant News



Some versions of salsa macha call for apple cider vinegar, but fresh lime juice adds a touch of flavor to the whole.

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Robin Mather Special for the Arizona Daily Star

Last year, Chili Crisp was all the rage in the food writing world. It is a fiery oil with crunchy chilli pieces that has its origin in China. Its fans hurled it on everything, including a rash idea (in my opinion) of putting it on top of chocolate cake.

I’ve done a few. I’ve tried (but not on chocolate cake). I found it, well, not that exciting. Fiery, yes, but its taste is a note – just heat, no complexity. I threw the last one away just a week ago.

This year I love Salsa Macha, a not quite as fiery but complex oil-based salsa that originated in Veracruz, Mexico. I wear salsa macha on everything (but not on chocolate cake).

Despite its name, it’s not macho at all. This salsa is not supposed to be Chilean spicy. Instead, you get a much more interesting flavor profile as you use a variety of dried chilies to prepare it. It is roasted from the dried chillies, with nice nutty notes from the pecans, almonds or peanuts. Sesame seeds, when you need to add them, add their own nutty flavors.

I made my first batch in early July and now it’s all gone. I made another batch over the weekend and although it will last about a month in the refrigerator, I doubt it will last that long.

A few tips for the perfect salsa macha:

This is not the place to go to use your best extra virgin olive oil as it will lose its subtle flavors. Instead, use a mild regular olive oil or grapeseed oil, or another tasteless oil like canola.