As chefs and home cooks expand their search for all that's new, harissa has become the new sriracha. We love both and but we like making our own harissa. It's easy and it keeps. Delicious on grilled meats, fish, roast vegetables or stirred into stews and soups. We particularly like it with couscous or rice. Adjust the amount of heat by increasing or reducing the number of chiles. It's packed with heat and flavor!
YIELD 1 1/2 cups
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, roasted and peeled
8 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
8 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 chile de árbol, stemmed and seeded
1⁄2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried mint
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Taste#5 Bomba! XXX tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425˚ F
Cut the red bell pepper in half. Remove seeds and core. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Place cut side down on a baking tray and place in the oven. Roast until skin is blistered and begins to blacken. Do not let it burn.
Remove the pepper from the oven and place in a brown paper bag or a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 15 minutes. This makes it very easy to peel and discard the blistered skin. Chop roughly and set aside.
Cut stems from all the dried chiles and remove seeds. Using a kitchen shears cut into 1/4" stripes. Heat a skillet over medium heat and dry fry the cut up dried chiles for about 5 - 7 minutes. Stir constantly. Do not allow to burn. This deepens the flavors.
Place toasted chiles in a bowl and cover with bowling water. Allow to stand for about 15 minutes until softened.
Meanwhile over medium heat, toast the cumin, caraway and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the mint and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
Drain soaked chiles. At this point, we personally like to pureé the chiles in a blender with a little of the soaking liquid to form a smooth paste. Then we press the chile pureé through a fine mesh sieve with rubber spatula to separate the paste from teh skin solids. You can skip this step if you want and through it all in a blender.
Place chiles, roasted red pepper, spices, olive oil, tomato paste, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and process until very smooth.
Transfer to a sterilized jar and pour a float of about 1/4 inch or more of olive oil.
Refresh the oil after each use.
The harissa paste will keep for up to 3 weeks or even a bit longer. If you make a large batch, you can freeze in small portions. We keep silicone muffin sheets and individual silicone muffin cups for this purpose. Once frozen remove and place in a resealable plastic bag.