Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools, kitchen goods, and ingredients that make life better!
There are all sorts of chile pepper condiments out there, from hot sauce to Sriracha to straight-up red pepper flakes.
I love them all, but if asked to pick a favorite, I don’t have to think twice: New York Shuk’s Signature Harissa ($12.95 for a 10-ounce jar).
A Harissa That's Perfectly Spiced
I first discovered New York Shuk a handful of years ago while wandering the packed aisles of Kalustyan’s, a specialty grocery store in Manhattan. New York Shuk makes a variety of Middle Eastern condiments and spice blends, and I was initially struck by the beautiful packaging.
I selected a couple of their bottles to try, and while I faithfully use all of them and restock when I am out, their Signature Harissa is the jar I reach for the most.
There are plenty of harissa paste brands out there, but what’s special about the jar made by New York Shuk is that it’s not all heat or overpowering spice: It’s supremely balanced. Yes, the chile peppers play their starring role, but the paste is fragrantly rich thanks to plenty of garlic, cumin, and coriander, brightened with just the right touch of lemon juice.
And while it’s more expensive than other brands of harissa, after trying my fair share, I believe it is 100% superior!
How I Cook With New York Shuk's Harissa
A balanced harissa with medium heat is my secret weapon in the kitchen.
- Thin it with a bit of olive oil for an instant marinade for chicken, steak, shrimp, or a meaty fish like swordfish or salmon.
- Toss it with chunks of sweet potatoes or butternut squash before roasting to instantly achieve that perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
- Stir a few spoonfuls into simple tomato soup or tomato sauce to add depth, or into store-bought hummus to make it a lot more intriguing.
- You can even use it as an impromptu pizza sauce when you're in the mood for something truly unique!
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that New York Shuk also makes a Harissa with Preserved Lemon. It’s almost identical to their Signature Harissa but with the addition of blended preserved lemons and a touch of caraway. It’s tangier, with notes of floral citrus, while still being perfectly spiced and rich.
In an ideal world, both jars would grace my fridge forever.