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!


Ingredients:
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)

View the complete recipe

34 comments:

Unknown said...

Can you preserve this? It would make a great gift.

Chef John said...

I've never tried, but assume you could can this in mason jars in a hot water bath if prepped properly.

Nikki said...

What can you use this on? Do you think you could use this with chips like chips and salsa or no?

Chef John said...

See 4th paragraph!

Anonymous said...

Looks absolutely fantastic. I must try this!

Thanks, Chef John!

inchrisin said...

You charred the peppers on the flame and then scraped ALL of the char off. Couldn't you just go easier on the burn factor?

Food Junkie said...

Looks good and is the sort of thing I know I'll love. How long does fresh harissa like this last in the fridge?

Jennifer in Texas said...

Ok..first of all I love the LL Cool J reference. And I love your site, keep up the great work.

Me.Eat.Food said...

Chef,

I'm from Tunisia and I can tell you we NEVER use Kosher salt in authentic Harissa, only sea salt!

Oh wait. Never mind...I'm from California!

:-)
,

Anonymous said...

Did I see the freakishly small wooden spoon???No shout out to spoon in the vid????

Kir said...

Why store bought harissa (real tunisian) are usually much more thick?

Holly said...

Yum! I was wondering how long this will keep in a jar in the fridge? thank you!

Chef John said...

Not sure about shelf life, but I'll guess a week. I hear if you cover surface with oil it lasts longer.

Chris K. said...

I bet this would be fantastic with chicken wings.

Chef John said...

Agreed!

marie said...

Seeds don't have capsicum, actually. It's the pith around them that does. Seeds are safe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum#Capsaicin_in_capsicum

(I didn't know that until recently)

Thanks for another great video!

Rita said...

YAY! for the freakishly small spoon!

that harissa looks so good! that would also be good with burgers and ribs.

Steve said...

Chef:

Just for the record, Scotch Bonnet peppers and Habaneros are closely related but they're not the same. Scotch Bonnets are sweeter and a bit stouter than their Habanero cousins.

Feeling Food said...

Chef John, you hit the tasty notes everytime. Delicious!

DnR's MOM said...

ohh, LOVE the freakishly small wooden spoon.......

Alec006 said...

this sauce sound like a spicy romesco
don't you think?
and what about it'em with fries

Nowal said...

Although this sauce does not have an authentic harissa taste, at least not the pasty and fiercely hot version that I am used to which goes well with seafood and fish, it is nonetheless a delicious sauce. I used this sauce to make a nice middle eastern dip: mixed this sauce with some labna, chopped walnuts, and fresh mint, served with warm pita. A very nice appetizer. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I do not have an open flame to fire roast the peppers, what should I do instead?

Chef John said...

broiler? or outdoor grill?

Anonymous said...

"bc i wear a lot of scotch bonnet hats, and it gets confusing" laughing hilarious! you are the best chef john!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this fabulous recipe and another excellent video! Your demos are simply the best!

If you haven't come across it, I thought you might like the following blog, for its spicy flavors, brilliant colors, great food photography and unique personality: http://www.spiciefoodie.com/

joannedamon said...

How much sauce does this make?

Chef John said...

I think it was like a cup and 1/2

Gretchen in NOLA said...

Sounds gross...and yes it was, so a lesson in how NOT to mess with Chef J's harissa:
used red bell pepper, plus red and green jalapenos, garlic, cumin, coriander seeds (cilantro went to seed and it's awesome!), hate/hate/ha-yay-yay-yate-tuh! caraway seeds, so used brown mustard seeds, then toasted seeds, etc., used dried Mexican oregano b/c no mint...yada, yada.
Otherwise, did all as directed, and it was a lot NOT-of-this-Earth disgusting. Sorry, had to vent. Short story LONG, listen to our beloved Chef!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John for sharing. My husband and I love this recipe! A note to others, use gloves when working with the hot peppers. My finger tips are still burning, but a good burn well worth it! :)

Alex said...

Man, you’re really pulling out all the stops on the spicy threshold! Haha. This’ll be great for my dad’s birthday party next week. Thanks for sharing John! What substitute would you recommend for cumin? My dad’s allergic to it, you see. I’ve been using coriander as a substitute and though it tastes the same, it’s not “the same” without that smoky flavor. I even experimented with mixing different spices, but it just tastes weird.

Alex Staff

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I don't know of anything else that tastes like cumin! :)

Barry J said...

Is it possible to make this and put it in the freezer for later?

I love your site you are fantastic. I would like to see more from the BBQ if possible.

Nicholas said...

thanks Chef! needed inspiration for a new hot sauce, didn't have lemon so I used lime, Coconut oil instead of veg, and minced in kaffir lime leaves for an after note -amazing results, I really like the complexity of the cumin,coriander, and caraway