Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tahini Sauce & Harissa

I read somewhere that tahini sauce (the "white" one on the left) is simply a 50:50 dilution of water and tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds that you BUY at the store! Don't be crazy enough like some people I know & try to make it's just not worth the effort!). But a 50:50 dilution was missing something, so I made it kinda mayonnaise-y, jazzed it up a little with lime juice & made it richer with cream instead of water (yum!). The other sauce (red one) is harissa. Harissa is a spicy red pepper-based sauce with olive oil & seasonings & whatever heat factor rocks your boat. Absolutely to die for.

They both are incredibly versatile sauces. Can go with just about anything. Of course, pairing tahini sauce & harissa with falafel is always a "oui", but they're also great as condiments on their own rights -- instead of ketchup on fries, why not harissa & tahini sauce?! Double "oui"! From now on, I think I’ll always have some stocked in my fridge!

Tahini Sauce (source: my own recipe)

130 g crème fraiche (liquide)
75 g tahini (sesame seed paste) – room temperature
20 g lime juice
20 g olive oil
5 g vinaigre de xeres
Salt & pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store in your squeeze bottles....! (kidding). But seriously, store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Harissa Sauce (Source: Christine Manfield's book, Stir)

2 1/2 oz. (75 g) large dried Anaheim, or Dutch chilies, chopped
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
3 1/2 tbsp (50 mL) tomato puree
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

Soak the chilies in very hot water for 2 hours. Drain, reserving the soaking water.

Dry-roast the cumin seeds over gentle heat until fragrant, then cool, and grind to a fine powder with the caraway seeds. (Use either a mortar & pestle or a spice or clean coffee grinder).

Once finished, blend chilies, garlic, and 1/3 cup (100 mLs) of the reserved soaking water in a food processor, then add spices, salt and tomato puree. With the motor running, slowly pour in oil and blend until paste is smooth. Spoon into a sterilized jar, cover with a film of oil, and seal. This will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup (250 mLs).

Note: It is definitely worth the effort to make your own harissa at home. Sure, you can easily buy it here in Paris and it’s not expensive. However, it’s not the same! This sauce is smooth, rich, elegant & has a depth of flavor you won’t find in a tube. AND, there are no preservatives and colorants added – it’s 100% natural, which I love. I added a final step, however, which contributes to its smoothness: I passed the sauce through a strainer (“chinoise étamine” en français) so that any remaining skins were left behind, leaving a very velvety texture.


Mashav said...

Hi girl cook in paris. I like your blog. We in Israel eat a lot of thini and falafel and when we make it at home, apart from water we season it with garlic, lemon juice, and my favorite is green thini blended with loads of parsley. We usually don't add anymore oil cuz it's already 100% fat :)
btw, i'm considering going to ecole ferrandi myself, this is how I got to your blog.

Laura said...

Just found your blog when searching for where to buy tahini in Paris...can you advise? I've been looking everywhere to no avail!

girlcookinparis said...

Most middle eastern stores sell it on the shelf. Any shop with greek food would have it...I go to a greek epicerie right around the corner from where we live and buy a large jar there...well, the place is owned by greeks and they sell lots of feta, olives, "dry fruits", stuffed grape leaves, etc, etc, it's not a shop specializing in greek food per se.