Top | Adam Ried

Harissa

(recipe, Adam Ried)

Introduction

If you’re a heat-seeking missile who wants your harissa hot, purée some of the chile seeds (or some cayenne) along with the flesh. For time efficiency, toast and cool the spices while the chiles soak.

Ingredients

  1. 3 oz. dried chiles (about 12, depending on types and sizes), preferably a 3-to-1 combination of New Mexico or California and guajillo or pasilla, seeded if desired, and torn into pieces
  2. 2 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly toasted and cooled
  3. 1 tsp. caraway seeds, lightly toasted and cooled
  4. ¾ tsp. cumin seeds, lightly toasted and cooled
  5. 3 garlic cloves
  6. 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  7. Salt
  8. ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to cover

Steps

  1. Cover the chiles with hot water in a large bowl, set a plate on them to keep them submerged, and set aside to soak until they are fully softened, about 40 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the soaking liquid and put it aside. Drain the chiles and set them aside.
  2. Pulse the coriander, caraway, and cumin a few times in a food processor to begin breaking down the seeds. Add the garlic, and pulse a few more times to chop it. Scrape down the sides of the workbowl with a flexible spatula, add the chiles, reserved soaking liquid, tomato paste, and 1¼ teaspoons salt, and process to a coarse purée. With the feed tube open and the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream; continue to process and/or pulse until the purée is as smooth as you can get it, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.
  3. If desired, strain the purée through a medium-mesh strainer over a nonreactive bowl, stirring and pressing with a flexible spatula to work it through the strainer until only the chile skins remain (you should have about a generous ½ cup of smooth harissa); discard the solids left in the strainer.
  4. Taste the harissa and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if necessary. Scrape the harissa into a glass container, pour in olive oil just to cover, cover the jar, and refrigerate for up to one month. (Each time you use some, tilt the jar or add a little more olive oil to make sure the surface of harissa is covered.)