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Crispina's Masa de chile seco - Dried chili salsa

Crispina's Masa de chile seco - Dried chili salsa

Crispina makes this salsa on a metate made of volcanic stone to make silky smooth sauce. Guajillo chilies have a tough skin that only a metate can reduce to a fine purée. We improvised by using a food processor and passing the salsa through a sieve. The result is perfectly acceptable and quicker than grinding it all by hand.

Hoja santa leaves are extremely difficult to find outside of Mexico. They have a fresh and anise-like taste. You can substitue with dry aniseed or simply omit them from the recipe. Dried shrimp are available at Asian food stores.


  • 125 g Guajillo Chilies (about 15 chilies)
  • hoja santa leaves (opt) or 1/4 tsp. aniseed
  • 1 Tbsp dried shrimp
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste


  1. 1

    Grill the chilies in a dry pan over medium heat. Seed them and place in a bowl covered with boiling water for 15-20 minutes.

  2. 2

    Grill the garlic, peels on, until they are beginning to brown and can peel easily (about 5 minutes).

  3. 3

    Grill the hoja santa leaves and dried shrimp for 30 seconds.

  4. 4

    Place the seeded chilies, peeled garlic and other ingredients in a food processor. Grind them, occasionally scraping with a spatula, until salsa has the consistency of a pesto (3-4 minutes).

  5. 5

    Using a spatula, filter through a sieve or colander.

This salsa keeps for 8-10 days in the fridge and freezes well.

Recipe by Crispina Sanchez-Lopez