Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Harissa – Once You Go Tunisian, Other Hot Sauces Aren’t as Pleasing

Harissa is probably my all-time favorite hot sauce, and one I’m sure you’ve seen me use in a bunch of recipes here. As I mention in the video, a small spoonful of this makes virtually any savory dish better.

Now, I’ll admit to usually buying mine in convenient tubes imported straight from Tunisia, but I decided to show you my homemade version, since I do get the occasional note saying, “Chef John, I’m in the witness protection program, living in rural North Dakota, and they don’t carry many North African condiments at the market...what else can I use?”

As with any similar recipe, there are countless variations using many different combinations of fresh, roasted, boiled, and dried chili peppers. Same goes for the spice, but I really like the blend listed below. Dried mint really has a unique, and much different flavor than the fresh herb, and as I hope you experience, toasting the caraway and coriander does wonderful things.

I could do a 5000-word essay on what you can do with this sauce, but just for starters consider these ideas; Harissa aioli, pizza sauce, sandwich spread, steak sauce, chicken marinade, and rubbed on your knee to help that arthritis (warning: check with your family doctor before starting any sauce-based treatments).

Anyway, if you’ve seen me use Harissa, and were frustrated that you didn’t have access to any of this magical product, now you can make your own. Enjoy!

2 red bell peppers, fire roasted, peeled, seeded
6-7 red Fresno chili, seeded
1 habanero, seeded
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1⁄4 to 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1⁄4 to 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried mint
1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, added to blender at very end (do not blend more than a few seconds)

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