At our restaurants we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team, particularly the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food. Our series Family Meal spotlights recipes from different members of our team that have — in some way — informed the way they cook today.
This week, a recipe from Naczielt Romero, who works as a Production Chef in the Gjusta kitchen helping create our grocery and retail goods for use in both our Gjusta dishes and for offering for sale at both the bakery and at Gjusta Grocer. Naczielt shares with us her interpretation of the versatile condiment Salsa Macha, created from a recipe her mother would make regularly during her childhood in Ajalpan in Puebla, Mexico.
Her mother — who worked as a seamstress while raising four children on her own— would often turn to this flavorful condiment as a way to flavorfully elevate a dish with simple pantry ingredients. Popular in the south of Mexico, Salsa Macha is made from a mix of dried chiles, nuts, and oil (the combination and quantities of these ingredients often an expression of the maker’s personal taste or perhaps whatever happens to be on hand.)
“The connection with this sauce in particular reminds me of home and when I visit my mother,” Naczielt explains. “All our deepest talks take place in the kitchen. She’ll ask if I’d like a taquito while we talk, and it will always be served with her Salsa Macha on the side… there’s usually a jar of it sitting in the middle of the table like a centerpiece. Salsa Macha gives a special touch to almost every food she makes.”
“Now, when I make my own Salsa Macha at home in California, I’ll use it to top everything — from Chinese food to Mediterranean, it goes very well with everything.”
Naczielt’s Salsa Macha
2 cups vegetable oil (or a neutral oil of choice)
2 cups chile Japones
6 chile de arbol
3 guajillo peppers
3 morita peppers
1 dried chipotle pepper
4 garlic cloves
½ white onion
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dry oregano
¼ cup of your choice of nuts and/or seeds (peanuts are traditional but it can be made with any combination of pepitas, sesame seeds, cashews, and/or almonds)
Gather the ingredients, remove the stems and divide peppers in two parts: first chipotle, guajillo, and morita and then japones and chile de arbol.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
Carefully lower the first half of the peppers (guajillo, morita, and chipotle) into the hot oil. The peppers should be ready as soon as they puff up. Once ready, immediately place them in a blender.
Next, lower the second half of the peppers (chile japones and chile de arbol) and let cook for 40 seconds. Place them in the blender when ready.
In the same hot oil pan, add the onion and garlic until a deep golden brown (about 4-5minutes). Place them in the blender.
Add your choice of nuts and seeds and cook in the pan until toasted (about 2 minutes) and place them aside to cool.
Add salt, oregano, and the oil in the blender. Blend the ingredients.
Add the seeds or nuts — pulsing or in short bursts.
Pour everything into a jar and keep tightly sealed. Salsa Macha will keep for months in a cool, dark place and does not need refrigeration. It will separate; simply stir before serving.