Is Harissa The Next Sriracha?

By now, most people have heard of the hot sauce sriracha, but another spicy sauce might be on the rise – harissa. According to Time magazine, use of the sauce in restaurants has risen 180 percent in the last three years. Maeve Webster, a restaurant analyst for Dataessential, told Time that harissa has some similar characteristics to sriracha and could see a surge in popularity in the next few years.

What is harissa?
Harissa is typically a mixture of chilies, garlic, tomatoes, caraway, paprika, coriander, and olive oil. It can be easily made, and is sold in cans and jars. In Tunisia, it is extremely popular. Harissa looks like a paste or salsa and can be easily used in many different dishes. There are countless recipes and variations depending where in the world it is found. Different brands of store-bought harissa will also have subtle variations.

How can it be used?
One of the reasons harissa is so popular in many parts of the world and is expected to grow in popularity in the U.S. is because of its wide array of uses. According to Serious Eats, chefs regularly use harissa with a number of recipes. These can be dishes like rice pilaf, Hamachi tartare with sea urchin and harissa foam, crock-pot chicken, spicy mayo, spicy pasta and spicy popcorn. While many serious chefs choose to make their own harissa, store-bought harissa is just as versatile.

Where can you get it?
Harissa isn’t too popular in the U.S. yet, but there are some places you should be able to find it.

  • Some supermarkets
    A few supermarkets will carry harissa if they have an international aisle. You’ll have a better chance at supermarkets that carry food specific to Asia and the Middle East, so try a few different supermarkets and you might find harissa on the shelf.
  • Online
    There are many websites that sell harissa. Amazon has a wide selection and many different price points. If you Google harissa you should have no problem finding somewhere to buy some.
  • Make it yourself
    Harissa isn’t difficult to make. Most food websites will have a recipe or two that you can easily follow and the ingredients should be easy to find at any grocery store.
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