Salsa de guajes is a delicious spicy sauce made with guaje seeds, tomatillos, and jalapeño pepper. This particular recipe has an interesting flavor and is something you should try if you love authentic Mexican recipes.
What is salsa de guajes?
Salsa de guajes is a traditional and popular recipe from Mexico. It consists of a spicy and tasteful salsa made with a particular type of fresh beans called guajes.
As long as the recipe includes guajes in its preparation, various versions of this salsa can be made by adding other ingredients such as tomatoes and different types of chilies; and the final color could be from red, green, to even yellow/orange-ish
What is guaje?
Guaje is a tree native to Mexico that can grow up to 12 meters high and is characterized by green or red pods that contain edible seeds, relatives of legumes and similar to pumpkin seeds.
In Mexico, it is a highly coveted product, especially among the indigenous and rural communities that enjoy this delicacy in many recipes.
The seeds can be used fresh or dried to make and enhance sauces and soups, especially mole. In the state of Morelos, they are roasted and salted to make a snack called “cacalas”.
It is very common to find them at local farmer’s markets, especially during the spring peak season where they are sold in small bunches. Outside Mexico, you can find them dried packed, or powdered.
Guaje seeds have a slightly sweet flavor and are also very nutritious, rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, which prevent various diseases, cell aging, and neuronal damage.
Guerrero: A local chili pepper named mochiteco (typical from Chilapa, Guerrero) is used to make the sauce that is then used to season some dishes.
Chiapas: In San Cristobal de las Casas is made using the raw beans, morita and guajillo chilies, and chopped onions.
Baja California: Kumeyaay people from Peña Blanca use dried guajes ground with serrano chilies, salt, and a bit of water.
Morelos: Besides the traditional salsa made with fresh beans, a version made with guaje flowers, manzano peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro is also very popular.
Ingredients and substitutions
Fresh Guajes. A small bunch of fresh guaje pods, enough to get about 1/4 cup of seeds.
Substitution: You can use 1 tablespoon of dried guajes, but make sure to powder them first.
Tomatillos. Also known as Mexican husks tomatoes, you will need a small bunch.
Substitution: If you don’t have fresh tomatillos you can use a small can (about 1 cup) of canned tomatillos.
Jalapeño peppers. I am using 2 large jalapeño peppers in this recipe, feel free to use more or to add just one.
Substitutions: You can use any other type of hot chilies you have available where you live. Green, red, fresh, or dried.
Seasonings: Garlic and salt are all you need to make this salsa. Adjust the taste to your preferences.
How To Make It – Step By Step
If you bought the beans/seeds already cleaned and ready to use, it saves you a lot of time, otherwise, remove the guaje seeds from the pods until you will have about 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon for garnish.
Next, you can proceed to roast the ingredients. Start with fresh tomatillos, then add green chilies, and last quickly toast the guaje seeds for a few seconds.
Now, you can use a molcajete, a regular mortar, or even a food processor to make the salsa.
I used a molcajete but no matter what you use, make sure to smash first the guaje beans along with garlic and salt. Grind or process until the mixture is almost paste-like.
Add the remaining ingredients in batches so they will be easier to grind. If you using a food processor add all at once and pulse a few times to achieve a chunky texture.
Keep grinding until you achieve the desired texture. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water. Adjust salt to taste, garnish with fresh guaje beans and serve.
Notes and Tips
- If you want to achieve a brilliant green color, do not over roast the ingredients, especially tomatillos because they tend to become yellow-ish.
- Adjust spiciness to your liking by adding less or more chili peppers.
- The longer you grind or process, the smoother the salsa de guajes will be.
How To Eat
Salsa de guajes is like any other type of spicy salsas, you can use it to drizzle over your favorite foods, make other dishes like stews or soups, or simply eat it with tortilla chips. Here are our recommended dishes to pair this particular salsa with:
- Mojarra Frita (fried fish).
- Huevos con salchicha (scrambled eggs with hot dogs sausages).
- Chorizo con papas (sauteed potatoes with chorizo).
- Tacos al pastor (soft tacos with seasoned meat and pineapple bites).
Salsa can be easily made ahead. Once made, transfer it to a jar or glass container (glass preserves the taste better) and store for up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
It can also be easily frozen for up to 3 months in bags or containers. When need it, thaw it and eat it as recommended above.
Watch How To Make It
Did you know? Guajes in English is pronounced GWA-heh.
Salsa de Guajes
- ¼ cup fresh guajes (+ 1 tablespoon for garnish)
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- ½ lb tomatillos
- 2 small garlic cloves (peeled)
- salt (to taste)
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or a comal and roast tomatillos and green chilies for a couple of minutes.
- Remove chilies and tomatillos and roast quickly the guajes.
- Add garlic, salt, and guajes to a molcajete or mortar and grind for a couple of minutes (read notes).
- Add the remaining ingredients in batches so they will be easier to grind.
- Keep grinding until you achieve the desired texture for your salsa. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water.
- Adjust salt to taste, garnish with fresh guajes and serve.