Harissa (North African Hot Sauce/Paste)

Hey Dude!

Man, I am so excited. I finally tried my hand at harissa, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Don’t know if you’ve ever had harissa, but back when I was selling hummus, a company from D.C., called Cava, was demo-ing some harissa next to me, and I fell in freaking love with it.

What makes their harissa unique, and so damn good, is their use of stewed tomatoes. So I wanted to see if I could figure out a harissa with tomatoes at the base. And since I have several bags of smoked or dried peppers in my pantry, my brain put the following together

  • 10-12 sun-dried tomatoes (I used Bella Sun Luci)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 ancho peppers (dried poblanos, check a Mexican grocery store)
  • 1 smoked ghost pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt, caraway, ground coriander, parsley
  • Lemon juice
  • Red wine vinegar

My method was quite simple. I roasted the red pepper and sun dried tomatoes at 350 degrees. I pulled the sun-dried tomatoes out after about 10 minutes, then kept roasting the pepper about 20 more minutes. After it was roasted, I let it cool until I could handle it, and I pulled the skin off.

Meanwhile, I submerged the ancho peppers and ghost pepper in a glass of water. Likewise, I soaked the now roasted sun-dried tomatoes in a separate glass of water.

Then, I simply combined all the ingredients in my food processor, adding a few shakes of each of the seasonings.

I used the lemon juice and red wine vinegar for flavor, preservation, and pasty consistency, 1 tablespoon at a time. In all, I think I used 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1-1/2 or 2 of red wine vinegar. Added a little more salt, and bam. I have a delicious African condiment. Goes great on sandwiches, meat, pita bread, mixed with hummus, whatever!

I’m not sure roasting the sun-dried tomatoes was necessary, so next time I’ll probably try it without and see how it compares.

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Hot Sauces of Two Dudes


to Daniel Larkin
from Jamey Bennett 

Hey man,

I hope your journey is fantastic. I wanted to drop you a quick note about some sauces I made today. I made two hot sauces, two wing sauces, and finished up my fermented hot sauce. I think one of the wing sauces needs its own post, and the fermented sauce deserves its own as well.

SO…let me start with my basic sauce. I started making this when I lived in Hawaii, and had a surplus of peppers. After messing around with a few different ways of making this sauce, I settled on a basic, “Keep It Simple Stupid” recipe. Basically, I just take a bunch of peppers, boil them in vinegar for about 20 minutes, throw in a blender with some salt (and maybe a bit of garlic), and you’re done. Today, I made one variation on this: I boiled serrano, jalapeno, and green cherry peppers in water. Drained, added vinegar and Goya’s Adobo seasoning (it’s basically salt and garlic powder), and blended with a tablespoon of sugar.

Next, I’ve been jiving on this amazing carrot hot sauce from WMD Hot Sauce , a local sauce company (UPDATE: now defunct), that I had custom made for my groomsmen and priest. So I did a little google search on carrot hot sauce, and this is the plan I devised. It made way more hot sauce than I imagined, but it is pretty good.

I took a little bit of onion and 4 or 5 garlic cloves, and cooked them in a bit of macadamia nut oil until the onions were slightly translucent. I threw in 1 lb. organic baby carrots, about 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and the juice of 5 limes. Brought it to a boil. After a few minutes I added a little less than 1/2 pound of habaneros (mostly reds, a few oranges, and one red cherry pepper from my garden). I cooked all of this until the carrots were pretty soft and easy to break apart with a spatula….this also meant I had to add a little more water at one point. I put this all in the blender, and added salt, 1 tbs. sugar, and added vinegar little by little until it blended smoothly. I chanced it, and added some water, too. Pretty soon I had the consistency I wanted. It tastes fantastic, but with that many habaneros…wow. And the carrots bring such a delicious sweetness to the sauce.

Now, here’s the bonus. I took some of the sauce, melted some butter, pressed up some garlic, tossed in some soy sauce, and bam! Wing sauce. Could have used some cilantro, too, but it was really great.

Happy saucing!

UPDATE: I did the cooking my cast iron skillet. Evidently, I have a lot to learn, because the next few times I used my cast iron skillet, our eyes hurt from spiciness in the air…