For anyone who likes spicy food (that definitely includes us!) harissa is something of a wonder ingredient. The chilli and other ingredients (usually red pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, rose, coriander, caraway…) combine to form an intoxicatingly fragrant and warm paste, and very often it is the only flavouring that you’ll need to add! In this case, we’re adding fresh orange to our harissa and sardine dish – the sweet, tangy flavour makes this a really indulgent meal. It’s really quick and easy too, perfect for a week night. We’ve based this on a recipe from the BBC food website – a great place to go for inspiration if you have a few ingredients you want to use.
Here’s what you’ll need for two people:
2 120g tins of sardines in olive oil
1-2 tsp harissa (depending on taste – and how strong your harissa is)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
200 g couscous
Small handful of gently toasted pine nuts (optional)
Sprinkle of fresh coriander (optional)
Start off by splitting the sardines down the spine, and taking out the big bones – don’t worry if they fall apart a bit. Now coat them in a mixture of plain flour and paprika, we find it’s easier if you sift together the two and then coat each piece of sardine separately. The flour will make the sauce go thick and silky smooth, and the paprika is just delicious…
When this is all ready, mix together the zest and juice of the orange, the harissa and the leftover oil from one of your tins of sardines. At this point you’ll probably want to put your couscous on to cook (as per packet instructions), as the rest of the cooking happens rather fast! Put a little of the leftover oil from the other tin of sardines into a frying pan on a medium-high heat, and add the flour-coated sardines. Fry until the flour has lost most of its colour – this should take about 2 minutes – then add the orange & harissa mix and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Serve the sardines over the couscous, and optionally top with the pine nuts and coriander – we didn’t have any fresh coriander to hand when we cooked this but it adds a really nice fresh flavour to the dish.
Earlier this year Bird and I took a trip to Morocco and were absolutely blown away by the food! This lamb dish uses harissa and ras el-hanout to evoke the flavours of Marrakech.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 lamb steaks (we used boneless leg steaks)
About 200g couscous
½ red onion
~2 tsp harissa paste (to taste – different brands have different intensities)
2 tsp ras el hanout
Salt & pepper
Firstly, mix together the harissa paste, 1 tsp of the ras el hanout, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, and just enough olive oil to make a sauce, and use this to marinate the lamb. We left our lamb steaks to marinate for about 2 hours. While the lamb is marinating, chop up the veg and put it in an oven dish along with a good drizzle of olive oil, the rest of the ras el hanout and some seasoning. Put this in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes.
When the veg has about 15 minutes left to roast, put a griddle pan onto a high heat. Once it has heated up, put the lamb steaks in. Be careful not to move them around too much while they’re cooking, as you want nice char-grilled lines on your steak from the griddle pan – they don’t just look good! Depending on the thickness of your meat a nicely blushing steak will take between 3 and 5 minutes per side, adding on a couple of minutes per side for a well done steak. Leave the steaks to rest for a couple of minutes once they’re done.
Lastly, cook the couscous – about the same volume of water to couscous, and squeeze half the lemon in for a bit of flavour. Cover it to keep the steam in once the water has been added, and when it is done run a fork through it to lighten it up a bit.
That’s pretty much all there is to it! We fell in love with the smells and tastes of Marrakech, and this takes us right back there. We have a few more Moroccan dishes up our sleeves, and can’t wait to share them with everyone.