Salsa Macha: My Mouth is Pleasantly on Fire
Shana’s husband, Allan, was an early Bite Society Salsa Macha taster. I received a text early last summer that said, “My mouth is pleasantly on fire.” This condiment from the west coast of Mexico became a sensation in 2020. Even The New York Times wrote an article about the "Value of Salsa Macha".
At Bite Society, our Salsa Macha is true to its Veracruz, Mexico roots. We use a blend of dried chiles that give it both chili flavor (we prefer flavor over fear) and chili heat. We add traditional fried garlic and onion for flavor and crunch and the hint of cinnamon that makes this flavorful salsa.
Bite Society's Salsa Macha has a unique twist. Instead of using peanuts, we have added pepitas and sesame seeds.
Back to the original question: What does Salsa Macha taste like?
The first note is the harmony of warmth and cinnamon, followed by the crunch of garlic and onion with a savory intermittent salt wave. Like a social media "About Me" descriptor....Salsa Macha is complicated. It’s a challenging question to answer. That is part of what makes Salsa Macha so versatile.
It has characteristics that ebb and flow by what it’s paired with. On eggs, I get more chili. On savory proteins, I get the heat along with garlic and onions. With my chocolate ice cream, I get the cinnamon and roasted pepitas.
It occurs to me that Salsa Macha is the condiment of requirement. Like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, it gives me just what I need to make the perfect bite.
My friend Tam is an excellent cook and all-around culinarian. She reads about food, collects cookbooks, knows a lot, and is ultimately responsible for my career in food. (She’s also smarter than me – she has a real job at Microsoft.)
Tam was also a Salsa Macha tester, so I asked her, “What does Salsa Macha taste like?” I got an answer worthy of Food52:
"Salsa Macha provides both a layered taste and sensation.
For flavor, it gives a rich and complex spiciness that’s tempered with sweet and salty notes, and an earthiness from the pepitas … and is there sesame in there? The nuttiness definitely provides a grounding for all the zippiness that comes from the chilis.
Salsa Macha doesn’t give me the spicy/numbing/tingling effect of a traditional Szechuan chili crisp. But, there’s a lively mouthfeel that comes along with the spice. " -Tam
Translation: Her mouth is pleasantly on fire.
Our other early Macha taster was Seattle wine expert, Kurt Schlatter. Before he wrote a review, he did ask for our salsa macha recipe.
Of our Mexican Salsa he said, "Don't get me wrong, I totally heart Asian-style chili crisp, but this is a deliciously different jar of amazement with a Latin accent. Chilis, seeds, onions, fried garlic, and that hint of cinnamon that will keep you coming back for more, and wanting to keep experimenting on what you could concoct with it next. If you need an easy winner, try it with avocado toast to start then go from there!"
Now that we have set some parameters on taste, what can you do with this complicated condiment? Here is a lengthy list of my favorites. I hope you will add your own.
How to Use Salsa Macha:
- Scramble eggs and top.
- Braise kale with onions, put over brown rice, add macha, and you have a healthy and tasty dinner.
- Use this salsa on fish tacos.
- Eat with tortilla chips.
- Mix with mayonnaise to make Macha Mayo. Put that on everything.
- Use the oil to baste a roasted chicken.
- Make an empanada filling by mixing it with your favorite meat or cheese.
- Sear tofu in the macha oil and top with the chilis.
- Bring leftovers together with a scoop of Salsa Macha.
- Macha chicken salad using Macha mayo.
11 Mix into melted butter and toss on popcorn.
12 It really is good on ice cream. I prefer it on chocolate, but it is great an vanilla, too.
Why did Macha burst onto the scene in 2020?
This everywhere condiment was really only in a few dedicated taquarias in the United States before 2020. It was a kitchen "family meal" favorite that rarely made it on a menu.
Bite Society was not the only kitchen that had been working on a macha recipe. In 2020, with time on their hands and no indoor dining, many chefs finally started to work on their recipe to-do lists. This oil based salsa holds well, packs a flavor punch, and complements a variety of cuisines. It was primed to burst out of kitchens across America.
Why buy it when you can make it at home?
Feel free to make it at home. The internet is filled with recipes. If finely chopped, fry over medium high heat, and remove from heat with a slotted spoon are you jam, then grab a large saucepan and start frying.
If place in a food processor and pulse make you nervous, you might want to skip the mess and buy it a jar. However you get it, grab this go to condiment and get it on everything.