5 ways to use harissa, the new sriracha
Having taken over the Mediterranean, harissa is now poised to conquer the taste buds of foodies all around the world.
If you're someone who fell in love with the sriracha hot sauce craze and can't wait to expose your tastebuds to what's next, we have the perfect candidate for raising the heat and flavor on your next culinary experience.
Harissa, a centuries-old North African chili pepper paste, has in recent years become adopted by world class chefs from the Mediterranean to the United States. Traditionally made from roasted red peppers, hot chili peppers, tomatoes, and spices and herbs such as cumin, garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne, the paste offers a complex burst of intense flavor to any dish.
Harissa is so versatile that it has been used in everything from hummus and sushi to award-winning falafel bars in New York City. Even world-renowned spice masters, such as the Israel-born Lior Lev Sercarz, have started turning harissa into flavor-boosting powdered condiments.
"The irony of harissa is that it all begins with dry ingredients," Sercarz, who owns the New York City spice and biscuit shop, La Boîte, told From The Grapevine. "You don’t even use fresh chilies to make harissa – you use dried chilies that are later soaked in water to hydrate them. So I said, what if we just keep it as is? You can sprinkle harissa powder on salad, for example, and it won’t go soggy. And the powder lasts much longer than a homemade harissa paste."
Spice markets, such as this one in Istanbul, will often sell harissa paste. It's incredibly easy, however, to make your own at home. (Photo: Badly Drawn Dad / Flickr)
According to Yotam Ottolenghi, an award-winning Israeli chef, author, and co-owner of several gourmet eateries in London, fresh harissa should take lead position in your hot sauce lineup.
"I use it in all sorts: for marinating meat and fish, for mixing with sweet roast carrots, for swirling through a root vegetable or garlic soup, or just for serving with couscous or rice," he shared in a recent op-ed. "There’s a huge range of ready-made harissas, but homemade is even more delicious, and satisfying, too; it means you get to control its heat levels."
Ottolenghi's recipe for harissa, which includes personal touches like lemon, onion and caraway seeds, can be found below. Once you've got the mix and balance of heat that serves your tastes, you can then move on to trying some of the other delicious fare described below. Just remember to leave some leftovers for yourself.
Pan fried sea bream with harissa and rose
This dish is so beautiful, it's almost a shame to eat it. One smell of the aromatic combination of harissa, rose petals, honey, cumin, and red wine vinegar, and you'll quickly succumb to the temptation. The recipe, one of the highlights of Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem: A Cookbook," can be found in its entirety here.
Harissa breakfast tacos
Jump start your morning with a bit of spice and savory with these harissa-infused breakfast tacos. (Photo: Katherine Lim / Flickr)
Want to spice up your breakfast tacos? Add a bit of harissa to your mix of fresh vegetables and eggs and you'll never go back. The smoky flavor of the paste, especially when paired with spicy meats like chorizo sausage, elevates breakfast tacos to a new level of yum. There are several breakfast taco recipes to choose from online, including this one from Eat Your Beets with harissa lime sour cream and another from 600 Acres that features harissa spread directly onto a hot tortilla.
Harissa steaks with yogurt sauce
Looking for a creamy, spicy way to season your next steak? Look no further than this phenomenal recipe for harissa steaks with yogurt sauce. (Photo: Jules)
If the thought of marinated steaks makes your mouth water, you're going to absolutely love this recipe for harissa streaks in a creamy yogurt sauce. The recipe, from TheStoneSoup, is particularly versatile in that it works for both those who love to prep and those in a hurry.
"If you have time, by all means marinate the steaks for longer, but you’ll get 90% of the results from just applying the harissa to the meat before it goes into the pan," writes Jules.
Should you be more in the mood for fish, we're pretty sure harissa would go just as well with our recipe for coconut and honey herb-crusted tuna steaks.
Miso and harissa roasted cauliflower
Your taste buds will be tingling after sampling this miso and harissa roast cauliflower dish from TheStoneSoup. (Photo: Jules / Flickr)
Another favorite from TheStoneSoup is this delicious pairing of miso and harissa over roasted cauliflower and kale. Like other healthy cauliflower dishes, such as this caramelized version and this cheesy gratin, the savory flavors are instantly soaked up by the veggies. Be sure to make more than recipe calls for, as we guarantee your guests will be asking for seconds.
Tomato-y, yogurt-y shakshuka
Interested in a little breakfast for dinner? Try this delicious shakshuka of eggs, tomatoes, yoghurt, and harissa. (Photo: Amy Ross / Flickr)
A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, shakshuka is increasingly a common sight at breakfast tables around the world. The savory dish, a kind of perfect smorgasbord of poached eggs in tomatoes, red peppers, onion, and other fresh ingredients cooked in a cast iron skillet, offers a rare level of creativity for any chef, with delicious versions incorporating everything from shrimp to hummus.
For those new to shakshuka, we recommend trying Ottolenghi's gourmet spicy take on the dish; with greek yogurt, harissa, eggs and copious garlic. Pair it with fresh pita bread from the oven and you'll have some exceptionally happy guests eager for their next meal invite.
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