Hold onto your taste buds: a hot new condiment is coming to plates near you. Harissa is a paste made from roasted red peppers and serrano and other hot chili peppers, along with flavorings such as garlic, cumin, coriander seeds, caraway and lemon juice. It’s native to North Africa, especially Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, but it’s growing in popularity everywhere as an alternative, or complement, to the beloved sriracha sauce.
We all have our own idiosyncrasies when it comes to spicy food. Some love the burn of chili peppers, others prefer plainer fare. That’s the beauty of using side sauces such as harissa: you can spoon in as much as you want. A big dollop for those with a predilection for pain, a tiny teaspoon for those who prefer the flavor of the dish to take center stage. Even better: if you make it yourself, you can adjust the temperature to suit your preferences.
There’s no right or wrong way to eat with heat: you just have to go by your gut. And your tongue. Here are a few fun ways to try harissa, to see whether it’ll become your new favorite sauce.
Great with Meat
In Tunisia, harissa is commonly used to complement meat dishes. And for good reason: a touch of this hot sauce gives lamb, beef and fish a rich, savory and spicy complexity. Try brushing harissa on your meat of choice, along with some salt and pepper, and leaving it to marinade overnight. Here’s one way to do it.
Flavor your Mayonnaise
Want to add a bit of punch to your dip? This use of harissa couldn’t be much easier, or tastier. Just mix a teaspoon of harissa with a third of a cup of mayonnaise, and stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice, if you feel so inclined. This spicy mayo can be added to your favorite sandwich, put on the side of an omelet, or used as a dip for fresh vegetables. This also works well with yogurt. Give it a try.
In Couscous Salad
Couscous is a neutral food that takes on whatever flavors you add to it, making it an ideal canvas on which to spread some harissa. Just take your favorite recipe, or try this one, mixing in a bit of harissa when you prepare the couscous. The result is familiar, but with a new kick in the mouth you’ll soon be craving.
Don’t forget you can always top your favorite Luvo entrée or breakfast with it, and if you’re short on time pick up our Chicken & Harissa Chickpeas with Brown Jasmine Rice, Butternut Squash, & Kale.