I've been seeing lots of recipes lately that call for harissa, a sauce that is a staple in North African cuisine, specifically Tunisian. With its fiery taste and gorgeous color from the main ingredient - chilies - harissa is used to add both flavor and color to various dishes. It is traditionally served as a condiment, like a relish, and used to accompany couscous. It's supposedly great mixed with olive oil and lemon juice for dipping torn off pieces of crusty bread, mixed with olives or to enhance salads or soups, cooked fish, or meats.
Reading through some of my cookbooks - dreaming about all the dishes I'd like to make next month - I came across a recipe for harissa in Christine Manfield's latest book, Stir. The book has beautiful photography, and is essentially a collection of recipes for homemade spice pastes - including harrisa, sambal, massaman and green curries, and complete with recipes for using each paste in a variety of different dishes. Stay tuned, because after tasting the harissa when it was finished, I'll definitely be making some of the dishes from this book - the flavor is fantastic. It's smoky, with undertones of the cumin, caraway, and garlic...and even a taste on the finger made me realize that I'll be trying to find anything I can to use as a vessel for sopping up this yummy sauce and getting it into my belly!
The heat in the sauce can be varied according to type of chilies used, and by how much of the seeds and veins you leave with the chilies. I used some lovely dried Anaheim chilies that were sent to me by my friend, Dawn, over at SoCal Foodie over Christmas (she's taking a breather from blogging at the moment, so I hope she comes back soon!). I took out about half of the seeds after soaking and chopping the chilies, because while I like a healthy kick of spice to my sauces, I do still like to be able to taste my food! And it's definitely still spicy! Everything else was a staple I had lying around, and you probably do to.
written by Michelle at 10:25 AM