Florida’s Chefs Should Be on the Lookout for This Condiment
Food lovers and restaurateurs are always looking for novel and exotic flavors that can take a dish from drab to dynamic. Dijon mustard, Sriracha, wasabi, chutney, and pesto are a few examples of condiments that chefs use to create new culinary experiences. But trending in Florida, and spreading across the nation is a fiery and garlicky spice paste that originated in North Africa - harissa.
Continue reading to learn why Florida chefs should be looking for ways to incorporate harissa as a condiment, a rub, or as a spicy addition to pasta sauce, roasted vegetables, and even eggs.
What is Harissa?
Harissa was created and grew in popularity in the Tunisian and Libyan regions of North Africa. Its main ingredients consist of a variety of peppers, including roasted red peppers, Serrano peppers, and Baklouti chilies. Afterward, a unique blend of spices and herbs along with olive oil are used to create a tomato-based paste. In addition to the spicy bite of the peppers, expect nuanced flavors that are derived from the addition of garlic paste, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, and cumin. A truly authentic harissa paste may infuse the aromatic and floral flavor of rose petals or mint.
Chefs from steakhouses to Mexican grilles should be on the lookout, because the hot chili pepper paste known as Harissa seems to be making a comeback, as Uber Eats now reports that people are increasingly ordering dishes with harissa as we head into 2020.
History of Harissa
Chili peppers have historically been a profitable trade commodity, not just from Central America and Mexico, but also from African countries like Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Here is where Harissa was born, but the condiment first gained American popularity back in 2014 and 2015. The trend began in Chinatowns across the country and many culinary analysts believe Harissa will be the next sauce to experience a Sriracha-like popularity.
More U.S. food consumers love spicy foods, as opposed to the hot-flavored sauces that burn the tongue and lack a flavor profile. Harissa provides both piquant heat and spicy flavor. While more American restaurants jump on the harissa bandwagon, now is the time for Florida Chefs to experiment with new recipes, signature dishes, or simply incorporate harissa as a condiment in steakhouses and chicken wing businesses.
Ways to Use Harissa in Recipes
At first glance, harissa is a condiment that can be sat on restaurant tables in bottles or served as a side condiment to be spooned onto dishes as the customer sees fit. And this is the first line of use - adding harissa to the menu alongside sandwiches and appetizers. This spicy sauce pairs well with chicken, but many restaurants choose to serve a version of harissa as a dip for tortilla chips or veggies.
But, there are many ways to use Harissa in entree recipes.
- Harissa Rub - an instant rub for premium cuts of meat like roasted pork or a leg of lamb, or a marinade for chicken legs
- Spicy Pasta Sauce - this tomato-based condiment can be a refreshing way to spice up pasta dishes
- Salad Dressing - create a signature salad dressing with a spicy kick by whisking harissa into a lemony dressing
- Egg Dishes - Tabasco and Sriracha have proven themselves in unique egg dishes, so why not Harissa on an egg breakfast sandwich?
- Roasted Vegetables - tossed in olive oil and harissa is a unique way to serve vegetables from Brussels Sprouts to cauliflower
- Spicy Burgers - simply mix harissa into ground beef and cook your burgers as usual for a unique take on an American standard
- Chicken Wings - the most obvious application for harissa is to create your own house-specialty chicken wings
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