Salsa Negra

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Salsa negra on duck legs
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I’d never heard of salsa negra until I volunteered to help my friend, Chef Patricio Wise of Nixtaco Mexican Kitchen, cook at his restaurant’s New Year’s Eve party. This inky sauce, lurked in a squeeze bottle, to be used on a poblano soup.

“Don’t use too much,” Patricio said. “It’s very strong.”

I tasted it. Dark, nutty, loaded with chiles and garlic and sesame, this sauce lingered on my tastebuds. It wasn’t picante spicy, but it was exotic. Like a mole, almost. But somehow cleaner tasting.

What’s in it, I asked. “Secreto,” he said, only half joking.

Patricio ultimately did give me the recipe, in classic restaurant percentages that I had to adjust so you can make it a home. If you like Mexican food and want a flavor that’s out of the ordinary, I urge you to make this sauce.

It does, however, rely on one hard-to-find ingredient: black garlic. If you have a Trader Joe’s around, they sell it, and you can also buy black garlic online. What is it? Slow fermented garlic that is murky, garlicky and slightly sweet. It lasts forever in the pantry. You need it for this recipe.

salsa negra recipe in a bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Patricio says his salsa negra is good on anything, and I believe him. I first put it on some slow cooked goose legs that I served with cilantro rice and toasted pumpkin seeds. As expected, it was amazing. Since a little of the sauce goes a long way, and because it lasts a long time in the fridge — several weeks — I’ll be experimenting with it on other foods.

When you do the same, let me know in the comments what you find this salsa negra best on!

salsa negra recipe in a bowl
4.82 from 11 votes

Patricio's Salsa Negra

This recipe can be scaled up, but remember a little goes a long way. I urge you to make it as written at least once before you tinker with ingredients. This sauce is truly something special. 
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup sunflower, canola or vegetable oil, 175 grams
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 1 key lime)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt, 3 grams
  • 1 tablespoon dry roasted peanuts, 5 grams
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted, 4 grams
  • 1 pasilla or guajillo chile, stemmed and seeded and torn up
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded and torn up
  • 1 tablespoon cumin 4 grams
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, or 1 chipotle in adobo (2 grams powder)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, 13 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1.5 grams
  • 3 cloves black garlic

Instructions 

  • Puree all the ingredients on high in a blender until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge indefinitely. 

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 251mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1210IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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28 Comments

  1. Hi Hank. Thanks for sharing this very special recipe. A couple notes from my experience:

    1. While the flavor is very special, consistency is challenging. The core problem seems to be reconciling the oil medium and the dried chiles. The first time I made it, I first reconstituted the dried chiles by soaking in hot water. The result, after blending, was sludgy and pasty. So the second time I skipped the reconstitution step. Consistency was different, but still not completely satisfactory, because the chile and oil separated too easily. The taste is well worth the consistency imperfections, but I would like to improve this somehow.

    Recommended variation. I wanted to brighten the flavor and arrived at pomegranate molasses. Quite a lot of it, like about a third of overall volume. It is really a perfect combination. Had it this way on duck. Fabulous.

    1. If you do reconstitute the peppers and comes out sludgy or gritty you should try running the sauce the a fine mesh strainer. Usually works with creating a smooth texture.

  2. I can’t rate this recipe because I’ll be using roasted peanuts instead of dry-roasted. Just want folks to know they don’t carry this at Trader Joe’s, at least not the one in Shrewsbury. Whole Foods only stocks it occasionally . I finally found it at Wegmans.

  3. Hello again,
    I made this sauce today and it was a lot thicker than in the photograph more like a paste as one other reviewer stated so I added more oil and lime juice. It is very tasty but not as hot (spicy) as I thought it would be. Pehaps letting sit in the fridge a couple of days will allow the flavors and spicyness to develop… Is it normal that the oil separates after sitting for a while?

  4. Hi Hank, I’m slowly acquiring the ingredients for this sauce. I can’t wait to try it. Will let you know when I do…BTW, Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry black garlic anymore, at least not the store in Bellingham WA.

    1. Black garlic can be bought online from http://www.blackgarlicna.com – they have free shipping and no minimum order so you can order four bulbs for 10.00 and just pay 10.00. They also have puree and cloves. I am obsessed with the puree.

      In addition, shipping is FAST, and they produce all of their North American garlic in Wisconsin. And they offer Organic too.

  5. Heading to the store this morning to get a couple of items not in the pantry. Looking forward to making it because this recipe has things in it my wife and I love. Will post later after I make it. Keep up the good work Hank!

  6. Just tried this and I’ll definitely be making this again and learning my way around it. Mine came out more like a paste, not like in the picture. I’m wondering if it was a mistake to plump the chiles up in hot water. Can they just go into the blender dry? For my duck accompaniment I wanted it to be brighter. I experimented by mixing 1 part pomegranate molasses to 2 parts salsa negra. They seem like they are meant for each other!

    1. Chris: I like that pomegranate molasses idea! As for texture, more lime, more oil. It’s supposed to be slick and thick. Not like a typical salsa we see here in the US.

  7. I made this last year to go with some carne asada and was hooked. The leftovers went into everything I made until I ran out. About to make some more for a goat roast I am doin in a couple weeks and looking forward to having it on hand again.

  8. I tried to make this. But got rather freaked out when I saw how many sesame seeds are in it. Seeds are rather problematic for me. Would it be possible to substitute sesame oil for the seeds in the recipe? Might you suggest a possible substitution?

  9. I made this as directed but it wasn’t very “negra”. More reddish and too oily. Didn’t look like the photo above in the white bowl at all. Maybe because I used chipotle in adobo rather than chipotle powder? Or made some other mistake. I baked some chicken thighs with it and turned out ok but a lot of the flavor cooked out.

    Best taste I found was when it was baked for an hour or so on the chicken and the sauce was crusty and almost hard; these chunks were super tasty.

    I drained some of the oil and decided to make it even more red with the addition of achiote paste (and more black garlic)! This gave it an interesting twist. Baked some more chicken and it was pretty good. Then made some scrambled eggs this morning but all the flavor cooked out pretty much.

    Disagree with the quote, “Don’t use too much” as I had to use a lot.

  10. anyone try this on chicken or other fowl which then is smoked? Or would that be an overdose of competing flavors?

  11. This is spectacular! I basted some whole plucked doves and a parted cottontail with it in the oven in a shallow baking dish. Served with toasted sprouted pumpkin seeds and wild rice.

  12. I made a double batch of this about 4 hours ago so I’m sure it will only get better with time. I had some frozen smoked turkey from the holidays that needed a use. Since the sauce is mostly oil (I used grapeseed) I tossed about 4 tacos worth of meat in a scant tablespoon of sauce. Re-heated slowly (long enough to pull apart) and served with a little guac and another drizzle of salsa on a corn tortilla- Holy Bleepin’ Bleep! I have a pint of this now and am looking forward to my options!

  13. Hank could you elaborate a bit more how you would use it? sounds delicious. Also other uses for the black garlic if you buy it? Just use it like garlic?