Any gourmand with a hankering for something spicy would be right at home in my kitchen, where the fridge is stocked with scorching sauces from every corner of the world. From Tabasco to Sambal Oelek and Sriracha, I'm extremely well-supplied in the store-bought specialties department.
I recently came to the conclusion, however, that I'm lacking somewhat in the homemade hot sauce category. Enter harissa, a fiery garlic and chili paste that hails from Tunisia and is used in stews, pasta sauces, grilled meats, and couscous. Although the chili paste is sold in tubes and jars at many supermarkets, it's easy — and much more fulfilling — to make from scratch yourself. See how I did so when you
8 dried or 1 1/2 oz. new mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded
8 dried or 2 oz. guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (I substituted aji panca peppers)
1⁄2 tsp. caraway seeds
1⁄4 tsp. coriander seeds
1⁄4 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. dried mint leaves
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
5 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
- Put chiles into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit until softened, about 20 minutes. Heat caraway, coriander, and cumin in an 8" skillet over medium heat. Toast spices, swirling skillet constantly, until very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer spices to a grinder with the mint and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
- Drain chiles and transfer to the bowl of a food processor with the ground spices, olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the paste is very smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a sterilized 1-pint glass jar and fill with oil until ingredients are submerged by 1⁄2". Refrigerate, topping off with more oil after each use. Paste will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Makes 1 cup.
- Condiments/Sauces, Other