Spicy peanut & sesame salsa

Spicy peanut & sesame salsa

Chris Middleton

I’ve enjoyed so many spicy peanut salsas on my travels, though the best one I’ve ever had was in the Mexican city of Ensenada on the Baja California coast, where it was served with grilled octopus and giant prawns to great effect. This version is a terrific taco salsa for all kinds of seafood, meats and vegetables.


Quantity Ingredient
50g dried pasilla chillies, stalks removed and quartered, (see Latin Larder)
50g arbol chillies, stalks removed and quartered, (see Latin Larder)
200ml hot water, plus extra if necessary
6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 red habanero chillies, halved, stalks removed and de-seeded, (see Latin Larder)
100g roasted peanuts
125ml toasted sesame oil
100g pitted dates
60ml sherry or merlot vinegar
65g tahini
2 limes, juiced
50g toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
50g chopped peanuts, to garnish


  1. Heat a frying pan over low heat, add the pasilla and arbol chillies and toast lightly for 1 minute until they begin to colour. Pour over the water and bring to the boil, then transfer to a bowl and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add the garlic, habanero chillies and peanuts to a food processor and blend to a coarse breadcrumb texture.
  3. Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over low heat, add the garlic mixture and fry for 4 minutes until fragrant. Add the soaked chillies and the chilli soaking water, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until thickened and reduced, then add the dates and sherry vinegar, bring to the boil and cook for a further 2 minutes until reduced slightly.
  4. Transfer the chilli mixture to the food processor together with the tahini and blend to a smooth sauce, adjusting the consistency with a little extra water if necessary. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt to taste.
  5. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, then add the sesame seeds and peanuts to finish. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
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