This week's recipe is for pecan salsa macha– probably my favorite condiment I've created in recent years and one of my most requested recipes from friends who have tried it at dinner parties.
I first came across salsa macha when I was living in Mexico, and it was something of a revelation. Nuts, seeds, garlic, and chiles are simmered in oil until they're golden-brown and crisp, and then pulsed together with vinegar, salt, and the occasional sweet element until they form a rough paste. It hits all the notes– savory, sweet, spicy, acidic, salty, crunchy, oily. It's addictive, versatile, and unlikely to last long in your fridge before it's used up. I recommend making a big batch and sharing some with friends.
I was first inspired to make this version when I found a local vendor selling pecan oil at my farmer's market. I like adapting classic recipes to local product availability, and I loved the buttery, nutty flavor of the pecan oil.
I've refined this recipe over many iterations, and the latest version really feels like the best one yet. I'm going to give you the recipe exactly as I like to make it, but this is definitely something that's plenty open to substitutions and adaptations.
I highly recommend tracking down pecan or macadamia oil (I like Perennial Pecan, La Tournagelle, or Milkadamia) as they offer a really nice, unique flavor. But you can also make this with neutral avocado oil or a really light olive oil. You can use any type of nut or seed, any type of dried chile, and you can experiment with different forms of sugar (honey, molasses, piloncillo) and different flavors of vinegar (sherry, rice, cane, etc).
As always, let me know if you've got any questions.
- 1.25 cups oil (pecan, macadamia, avocado, olive, or a mixture)
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thick
- 4 chipotle chiles (seeds, veins, and stem removed)
- 2-3 ancho chiles (seeds, veins, and stem removed)
- 2-4 arbol chiles (seeds, veins, and stem removed) – these are spicy, so omit them if you want less heat
- 1-2 tbsp vinegar (sherry, rice, or cane vinegar)
- 1 tbsp honey
Start by prepping your ingredients.
For the chiles– remove and discard the stem, slice them open lengthwise, and pull out the seed pod, seeds, and veins. Cut the chiles into large pieces.
Peel your garlic and cut it into thick slices.
Add the oil to a saucepan and place it on a burner on the lower side of medium-low heat.
Add in the nuts, seeds, and garlic, and allow the entire mixture to gently heat up and simmer. The oil will bubble and and froth, but you don't want it to get too hot, or else it will burn your garlic and sesame.
Allow everything to simmer for 5-10 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to get everything coated and mixed together. The seeds and garlic should take on a light golden hue, but should not burn.
Once everything starts to turn golden-brown, add in your chiles.
Stir the mixture to make sure the chiles are coated with oil. The hot oil will allow them to crisp up and get the best texture.
Simmer everything for another 3 minutes or so, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool down a bit.
Add the contents of the saucepan to a food processor (preferred) or a blender.
Add in a big pinch of salt, a tbsp or two of vinegar, and a tbsp of honey.
Pulse everything together until you get small, uniform chunks. You can blend it even more if you prefer a finer texture.
Taste the salsa, and adjust as needed with more salt, vinegar, honey, or oil.
Once you're happy with the flavor, add everything to a container, cover it, and let it to sit for at least an hour (or ideally longer) to allow the flavors to meld.
After that, use it as you would any kind of spicy salsa. One of my favorite ways to serve this is to toast sourdough bread, spread Greek yogurt on top, and spoon the salsa macha over the yogurt. It's amazing on sliced avocado, in tacos, and much more.