You guys know how I love me some Sriracha.
The other day I took the “How addicted to Sriracha are you?” quiz - created by TheOatmeal - and got “100% addicted to Sriracha”.
But wait, I’m not here to annoy you with another post on the notorious rooster hot sauce; today we’re talking about Harissa.
A fiery paste used in North African cuisine that - just like its Thai cousin - is hot, complex and totally addictive.
Harissa is a blend of hot peppers, garlic, various spices and olive oil.
In North Africa it’s used as a flavor base for stews and curries, as well as a condiment to cooked vegetables and meats, and even spread on bread for a simple snack.
Harissa has an incredible ability to liven up foods — I use it in all sorts of ways.
Lately I’ve eaten it with sweet potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, soft-boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs (I know, I know, a lot of eggs), zoodles, and - last night - even with anchovies.
It’s true what they say, harissa goes well with everything (except maybe desserts.)
Back in the days I had no idea though. I really didn’t. I used to look at Harissa with suspicion.
I should actually smack the former self of mine for that.
Stupid me. Eating tagine like I thought I knew what was what.
Now I’m making up time for all the lost harissa, by slathering it on everything.
You can get harissa in tubes or small jars, but the homemade version tastes much fresher.
That’s why I decided to make it at home.
Harissa varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, as well as by city and country, but in its most basic form, is made with dried chiles, garlic, salt, and lots of olive oil.
Then you can add some caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, dried mint, depending on your preference.
In this version, I’ve brightened the flavors by adding a teaspoon of vinegar.
Thick yet smooth, harissa pairs well with all sort of proteins, starches and vegetables.
It goes on everything!
Note. Wear rubber gloves to stem and seed the chiles. Be also very careful not to touch your eyes or sensitive skin while you're dealing with chiles.
Yields about 1 cup
2 oz / 57 gr dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded*
2 oz / 57 gr dried Anaheim chiles (or pasilla chiles) stemmed and seeded*
5 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons fine grain salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for topping
*if you can’t find these specific chiles use whatever hot dried chiles you can find.
Place chiles in a bowl and cover with hot (or boiling water). Place a small plate (or a lid) over the chiles to keep them submerged in the water.
Soak for 30 minutes, up to one hour, and drain.
In the bowl of a food processor add garlic cloves. Process until it is all chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl. Stop and with a spatula scrape down the sides.
Add chiles, ground caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, dried mint, vinegar and salt. Process until everything is chopped and scrape down the sides.
Process again, and with the machine running add 2 tablespoons of water and the olive oil.
Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.
Transfer paste to a jar. Wipe the inside edges of the jar with a paper towel and cover the harissa with a film of olive oil.
Refrigerate, topping off with more oil after each use. The harissa will keep up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.
One teaspoon yields 33 calories, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of protein.