Back to kitchen experiments: I still love Moroccan food. For some reason decent harissa is hard to find, so I was in the mood to try my own. All the recipes I found use dried red peppers – the local groceries didn’t have those, and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the next CentralMarket shopping trip to get some. And as harissa is usually made without the seeds, using the big container of crushed red pepper was out of question. Two options then: use some home grown and dried Thai peppers, or experiment with the fresh ones. Today I chose the fresh ones. The grocery had just jalapeños and one other variety, so harissa experiment #1 is with fresh jalapeños.
Spices: I chose ras el-hanout, sumac, and a bit of cilantro
Something to grill or roast with
Blender (or coffee grinder)
First put gloves on – the peppers will hurt otherwise. I cut the jalapeños in smaller sizes, removing the white parts, stems, and seeds, and peeled two big garlic cloves the same way. For roasting I used our George Foreman grill, but oven or any roasting device will do. They don’t have to get extremely cooked, just softer and nice smelling.
After roasting, cool them down. Then add the jalapeño pieces, garlic, and olive oil to the blender, and blend. Test the taste, and add any spices you prefer, and add olive oil as much as needed to get the proper harissa consistency. When you are happy with the flavor and consistency, can the harissa and enjoy. Add 1/4 inch of olive oil on the top before you put the lid on.
On the smaller jar I have a variation with some bhut jolokia. I had some dried jolokia in my cupboard, so I soaked two peppers for an hour, discarded the soaking liquid, and tried to deseed the pieces (with gloves on!), and added the jolokia parts to a small portion of the green harissa, and continued blending. I was expecting the flavor to be – well, extremely hot, but it seems soaking and deseeding took care for most of that, so it’s not as hot as I expected.
End result is not the typical harissa. I was prepared for a jalapeño flavor, and it has that. It has heat as I hoped. It seems to me when using fresh peppers it’s much harder to get the proper thick consistency. (Perhaps with scotch bonnets it would work better) Meaning simply that today’s batch will soon be used on anything one would use harissa on, and I’ll grab the dried peppers I need from CentralMarket. Overall the flavor is right, but the consistency is not as I was looking for because I used fresh peppers.