Fried Potatoes with Harissa Tehina
The cookbook club is taking a trip to the Middle East for the March 2016 Meet & Eat with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking. This fantastic book from Michael Solomonov and James Cook reinterprets Israeli Cuisine for American kitchens, and we’re especially excited about this inventive recipe for fried potatoes using Harissa, a perennial favorite here at the shop!
From the Authors: “This dish happened by serendipity. At Zahav, our Israeli pickles come packed in huge cans with a ton of excess pickle juice. One day, in a passion for brining, I decided to throw some peeled potatoes into that leftover pickle juice. A day later, I drained and fried the potatoes, ending up with the most amazing French fries ever. The potatoes were seasoned from within with a garlicky tang from the pickle juice. Deep-frying can be an undertaking, so when I make this dish at home, I just slice the potatoes into rounds and pan-fry them on both sides in a cast iron skillet until they’re nice and crispy. I serve the potatoes with tehina augmented with harissa, the North African condiment based on dried chiles that’s a staple on the Israeli table. In my harissa, I use ground Aleppo pepper from Syria, which has a fruity ﬂavor and is not screamingly hot, so you can appreciate the pepper’s earthy undertones. I thin the sauce with a little more pickle juice to cut through the richness and echo the ﬂavor of the potatoes. I’ll bet there’s a jar in your fridge, with a lonely pickle or two bobbing in a sea of brine. This recipe is the perfect way to put those pickles out of their misery.”
- 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons pickle brine
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup Basic Tehina Sauce (below)
- ¼ cup harissa (below)
- Combine the potatoes and the 2 cups pickle brine in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to cook the potatoes, drain them well and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat ¼ inch oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking.
- Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add the potatoes in a single layer and fry until brown and crisp on the outside and tender within, about 3 minutes per side.
- To make the harissa tehina, whisk together the tehina sauce and the 2 tablespoons pickle brine. Stir in the harissa—I like it when the sauce looks a bit broken and streaky. Serve the potatoes with the tehina sauce.
- 1 head garlic
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 generous cups tehina
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into a blender. Add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
- Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water, bit by bit (about 1½ cups in total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.
- Taste and add up to 1½ teaspoons more salt and cumin if you like. If you're not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.
- ½ cup ground Aleppo pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch ground coriander
- 1 pinch ground caraway
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup canola oil
- Combine Aleppo pepper, garlic, wine vinegar, cumin, coriander, caraway, and salt.
- Blend in a food processor to a coarse puree. Add cup canola oil and process for another few seconds.
- Stop short of making it perfectly smooth. Refrigerated, harissa will keep 2 weeks.
You can, if you wish, substitute ½ cup of our Harissa blend for the Aleppo pepper, cumin, coriander, and caraway.
Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking is the March 2016 selection for the World Spice Cookbook Club. Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking is currently available for purchase at our retail store and online.
Reprinted with permission from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin. Text © 2015 Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook; Photography © 2015 Michael Persico. All rights reserved.
I’m confused. Is tahina the same as tahini, or do i use the recipe posted online for his tahina, which contains garbanzos and is more like a hummus?
Tahina is the same as tahini – in “Zahav”, he calls it “tahina”, but it’s the same thing (just a spelling difference). Essentially both are sesame seed butter. They can be used interchangeably.