California Harissa

Suzanne Goin uses this spicy Tunisian sauce as both a marinade and an accompaniment. It's classically served alongside couscous, but can be paired with most poultry, meat, and hearty fish, including the halibut skewers.

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
25 mins


  • 5 dried ancho chiles (2 ounces), stemmed and seeded

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1 large garlic clove

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 plum tomato, halved and seeded

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) or sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. In a heatproof bowl, cover the anchos with the boiling water and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the chiles. Transfer half of them to a food processor along with the garlic, olive oil and salt; puree until smooth. Add the tomato, pimentón, vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne and cumin and puree until smooth.

  2. Finely chop the remaining anchos. Add them to the processor and pulse 2 or 3 times, just until combined. Transfer the harissa to a bowl.

Make Ahead

The harissa can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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