Why Harissa is the New Spicy
- by Katia Essyad
What do the most beloved musicians, artists, authors and designers have in common? They all have their own signature style. The quality of being unique is what turns good into great. While there are a lot of hot sauces out there, harissa is one of a kind. We start with passion and the best ingredients — add to that a truly distinctive character, and you have a hot sauce that is the perfect complement to your table. Ever wonder what makes harissa different? Read on to find out!
Most hot sauces are watery, but sometimes you just need more. Looking for something that will cling to your food in a thick dollop, rather than run off like a soggy mess? Harissa, which has a texture of somewhere between paste and sauce, is the answer.
Harissa’s rustic texture creates interest in all sorts of dishes, from eggs and meats to potatoes and broccoli. Each bite becomes an adventure of textures with bits of chili pepper and chili paste mingled with lemon and salt. Harissa has substance where other hot sauces are lacking, and while its texture is noticeably hearty, it’s also smooth enough to pair with refined dishes.
While many hot sauces claim to be the “original,” they have a hard time measuring up with harissa’s deep-rooted history. For hundreds of years, this spicy condiment has been enjoyed in Morocco and throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Every time you open a jar of harissa, you’re connecting with generations of tradition, broken bread and smiles among friends over a shared, warm meal. When you use harissa in your kitchen, you’re finding out firsthand what makes this sauce so special that it’s been enjoyed ever since the chili pepper was traded on African shores.
Read the labels of all the hot sauces you can find, and you’ll likely find one thing in common besides peppers: vinegar. Unlike other hot sauces, harissa uses the flavor of fresh lemons to create acidity and brightness. The result is something as delicious as it is different.
Lemon creates a milder tang and adds more flavor to the mix than a distilled vinegar would. Lemon is also extremely versatile, and can hopscotch between different cuisines with ease. This makes harissa a dream in the kitchen — pairing as easily with Mexican as it does with Italian.
Most hot sauces focus on two flavors: vinegary and spicy. Those that don’t usually add carrots, fruit or sweeteners, making them sugary and cutting their versatility in half. What makes harissa special is its full flavor and complexity. A thoughtful blend of Moroccan chilies creates different notes of spiciness, along with an alluring fruitiness that smacks of ripe red peppers. You might even think there are tomatoes in our harissa, but there aren’t — the chilies are just that good.
Our harissa has a subtle smokiness and a delayed heat that builds in intensity before tapering off, leaving you wanting more. If you like the heat of fresh serrano peppers or chipotles, then you’ll love harissa.
A solid backbone of garlic gives body to the chili peppers, while the lemon adds a zesty citrus tang. It’s all blended beautifully along with a briny saltiness that seasons dishes and gives pop to the other flavors. One taste and it’s easy to see how harissa is not just your standard hot sauce!
Find out all that harissa can do in your kitchen! From barbecue night to cheese tastings, harissa is the new spicy.
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