Toward the end of 2020, as we were collectively casting about for something to lighten our weary load, an unlikely hero emerged: salsa made with peanuts. This was new to most. Different. Thrilling, even. (It had been a long year.) And as the salsa macha trend spread across the nation, we wondered when Kansas City might be blessed.
Enter Taco Naco, a catering company that recently opened a storefront in Overland Park. The salsa macha from Taco Naco is not designed for a bag of tortilla chips while binging Bridgertonon the couch. No, this salsa expects more from you: It calls on you to employ it in the marinating of chicken, in the slathering of ribs, in the dressing up of that sad cauliflower rice bowl you microwaved for lunch.
Chef-owner Fernanda Reyes makes her salsa with roasted garlic, white onions, tomato paste, chile de arbol, fresh cilantro and peanut butter. It’s a riff on the traditional Veracruzana salsa macha, typically a thin, oily sauce. But Reyes—born in Durango and trained at the Culinary Institute of Mexico in Monterrey—was inspired in equal parts by her mother’s mole de cacahuate (peanut) and Indian curry.
“Moles are like curries,” Reyes says. “They have a similar texture, and that’s where the idea for our salsa macha came from. In my house, I like to mix a couple spoonfuls of the salsa macha with a can of coconut cream or coconut milk, and when it’s almost boiling, I add shrimp. It’s sexy-spicy. You feel the kick of the chile, but it just makes you want to try it again.