Salsa macha is HOT, a little goes a long way but once the heat subsides you’ll want more! Salsa Macha is an incredibly spicy, smokey, rich chili oil from Veracruz, Mexico. “Macha '' is the feminine for “Macho”, a Spanish word, which depending on the context can mean male, tough, overly aggressive or brave. And boy do you need to be brave or have an extreme tolerance for heat to handle this one! You’ll find variations of this salsa all over Mexico using different combinations of chiles, garlic, vinegars, nuts and seeds. Some families will blend all of the ingredients together, while others add the toasted peanuts and sesame seeds whole after blending the chiles, oil and garlic. For the sake of not burning the peanuts and sesame seeds on the grill, I left them out of the marinade, however, I would encourage you to add toasted sesame seeds and toasted peanuts to the remaining chili oil once you’ve marinated your steaks.
The first time I tested this recipe, I cried because of how spicy I made it! I had never experienced crying from eating spicy food before, but there I was running to my freezer for a paletta, eating it over my sink, and thinking to myself "whatever you do, don't touch your face." I used about 30 grams of chile de arbol in one cup of oil, which is more than double what this recipe calls for. I came better prepared for round two of testing, and cut the amount of chiles by more than half, sliced the skirt steak, and added them to warm corn tortillas with lots of cilantro, avocado, crema and lime juice - all things I thought would help tame the heat and compliment the steaks. This round was still hot but no tears this time and the flavors of the chile and garlic really came through instead of being masked by so much heat. This recipe only calls for about 2-3 tablespoons of marinade so there’s plenty of salsa macha leftover for drizzling over tacos, rice bowls, toasts, eggs, vegetables or protein. If you make this recipe, I would suggest serving this with something cooling like a cucumber salad or the cooling toppings I listed. For dessert I’d recommend having palettas on hand!
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/ 2 ounce (12 grams) Chile de arbol
- 5 cloves garlic, divided and thinly sliced
- 1 pound skirt steak
- 3 tablespoons toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 12 corn tortillas, lightly grilled and kept warm
- Limes, for serving
- 1/ 2 white onion, finely diced
- 1 thinly sliced avocado, for serving
- Chopped cilantro, for serving
- Mexican crema, for drizzling
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chiles and cook until fragrant about 2-3 minutes. Add 3 garlic cloves and cook until lightly browned, making sure not to burn them. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Add all of the ingredients to the base of a blender plus 1 fresh clove of garlic and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Generously season the skirt steak with salt and garlic. Add two tablespoons of prepared salsa macha and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Add toasted sesame seeds and toasted peanuts to the remaining salsa macha and set aside.
Grill skirt steaks over medium high heat for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and let rest for at least 6-8 minutes before slicing.
Serve sliced skirt steak with warm tortillas, finely diced white onion, cilantro, avocado, crema and a big squeeze of lime.