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Sunday, June 14, 2009

SpiceStop : Harissa, Sunday version

Inspired by the abundance of chili from a recent harvest, this creation was conceived - Harissa, a version of an African hot red sauce usually made with dried chilies, coriander, garlic and cumin. After further research though, some recipes also use black cumin, caraway, and sometimes some other herbs like rosemary. I presume that it is just like any other mix where no two recipes are the same, depending on the region that it is made and the personal preference of who made it. Hence, this is Sunday harissa, a personal version!




This particular recipe is made of a combination of chilies (not sure if you would like to try this at home!)

12 thai red chilies
5 dried red chilies
2 small habanero
1 red bell chili
5 cloves garlic
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black cumin (slightly more bitter than the regular cumin, found at the indian store near you)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 sun dried tomatoes in oil, excess oil strained
4 tsp tomato paste
olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt, to taste

Rehydrate dry chilis in warm water for around 30 minutes. (option to remove the seeds)

Dry roast spices until fragrant. Let cool then grind up (either manually or in a spice grinder). Blitz together (or manually pound in a mortar and pestle, like in this case) all ingredients except for the olive oil, until well incorporated. Mix in 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil until it resembles coarse mayonnaise (?!). Spoon into screw top jar (sterilized, if possible) and top up with more olive oil. This helps to keep the mixture. Remember to top up the olive oil and make sure none of the chili mix is exposed to air. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 2 small jars of harissa.

To use, pan fry a nice chunk of salmon, skin side down, until skin is crisped and finish in a 180C hot oven for around 5minutes, let rest for around 2 minutes and slather a generous (well, depends on your heat index!) layer of harissa on top (either on the skin or on the other side) and serve with your favorite side dish.

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So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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