Hey folks, last week we saw a sauce which prided itself on its peri peri bird’s eye chillies. So, today, I thought I’d keep that african theme going, with a recommendation from my aunt.
This is Harry Brand and they make harissa. A north african style of chilli paste – Sometimes referred to as a sauce – that I’ve featured once before, yet actually had many, many times, off record.
I’m a massive fan of the style. However, that pure harissa isn’t our main event, this time around. It is merely the base for today’s real recommendation: The more unique-sounding mayonnaise that they make from it.
And, well, I’m excited. I love the rich, red, spiced chilli flavours of a good harissa and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they blend with the creamy, egg-based emulsion that is mayo.
Assuming, of course, that this is a good harissa. I still have both to try, so let’s get started.
Logically, it only makes sense for me to try Harry Brand’s harissa first. Before I find out what it does for the mayo.
It’s thick, chunky and holds its shape oh so well, despite some very visible liquid content. And, beneath the shine of its briny juices, it’s a deep, dark, red colour. One which hints at an equally rich, red, chilli flavour and is, in turn, mimicked by the text on the label.
Yet that’s about all the information that that label has to offer. Just a small, stylised chilli and some enticingly-coloured text against an off-white background.
There’s no mention, whatsoever, of the garlic that I’m smelling on the front of the jar. And it’s the most powerful part of this product’s aroma.
When it comes to the taste, however, there’s one thing which is even stronger – The salt.
It’s not quite as overwhelming as it was in Carrington’s Flaming Chup but it sure comes close, making it rather hard to enjoy the rich, roasted pepper and garlic undertones which should be the star of the show.
And it’s pretty hard to know just how much of this paste’s
around the throat and sides actually comes from the chilli, too, when there’s enough salt to provide its own dehydrating burn.
This is not something to eat as is and it’s not really a condiment, either. I wouldn’t stir this through rice or cous cous and I wouldn’t use it in my stuffed peppers but I did find that it made an excellent marinade for roast potatoes and I reckon that it’d work equally well on steak or white fish.
Plus, I could also see myself cooking it into soups, stews and shakshuka. Though I would urge anyone else trying those particular suggestions to be careful what stock they use, since most commercial sorts have a lot of salt, themselves.
In short, though, this harissa is more of a marinade or an ingredient than it is the usual spice paste and it contains none of the cumin or caraway that I’ve come to expect. It’s certainly usable and has a few standout applications but I’m not going to get anywhere near as much out of it as I did Burning Desire Foods’ version. Which makes me wonder what’s so special about the mayo.
Label-wise, it’s almost identical to the harissa that I’ve just had. The only difference is the font colour – Now an almost salmon-like orange, in order to reflect the lighter contents.
This may be a mayo but its peachy appearance and little red chilli flecks are far from subtle about what else is in there. And that, my friends, is a whopping fourteen percent harissa content.
So yes, the salt does come through, again, but it’s far more subtle than before. Buried beneath the creaminess and a slight tang of vinegar.
There’s not a strong yolk flavour in this particular product, either, and, to some, that might be a deal breaker. I’ve certainly seen people who thought that that was the be all and end all of quality mayonnaise.
To me, though, that’s a plus since, as much as I enjoy an eggy mayo, I also appreciate how the lack of that flavour, here, allows the rapeseed oil to make itself known. Leading us into the rich garlic and red chilli end note with its own, subtle earthiness.
But it is, as one would hope, that end note that really makes this mayo special. Or, more specifically, the way in which it replaces the sweetness in the tail that one might expect with something really quite savoury.
It’s a little bizarre, at first, but that twist, at the end, soon becomes highly addictive. At least in the figurative sense.
It’s delicious over chips and compliments the savoury quality of a burger delightfully but it also came with the suggestion that I try it over seafood, salads and avocados and cheese sarnies. And, for at least a few of those, I can see exactly why.
While I would, most likely, opt for a normal harissa for my fish, this mayo will work wonders with prawns, as part of a prawn cocktail or marie rose. And its red and savoury flavour will provide amazing contrast against the green and grassy taste of something like avocado toast, while matching the texture of the fruit.
Plus, when it comes to salads, it’s going to fill in for things like thousand island or caeser dressing. It’s not going to go over every bowlful of leaves but, if you pick the right mix, it’ll liven up your greens a lot. Especially if you’re planning to pair them with anchovies.
I’m not so sure on the cheese idea, to be honest, but, even then, fried things, like halloumi, make for glorious exceptions to my distaste for it.
In the end, I can think of very few places where I’d write this mayo off completely and far, far more that set my mouth awater.
It’s unusual, yet full of the fiery flavour that I love. Perfect for me and my fellow chilli fans.
But there’s one aspect of it that I haven’t mentioned, so far, and that’s the spice, itself. The delayed
in the back of my throat, which creeps in with the chilli taste, as I swallow. Towards the low end of that number, yet still definitely enough to call “medium”.
It’s an enjoyable burn but far from this product’s highlight. The flavour is what I’d recommend this mayo for and yes, I absolutely would recommend it.
rapeseed oil, Harry Brand harissa (14%), pasteurised free range egg yolk (8%), white wine & spirit vinegar, salt, mustard powder, garlic powder.
While the harissa itself, which I was much less keen on, was made from:
water, red chilli peppers (20%), fresh garlic, salt, thickener (guar gum, xanthan gum)
And no, it doesn’t name any specific peppers for me to link but, whatever it makes use of, they were the right choice for such a product. They provide exactly the rich, red chilli flavour that I was after, even if the salt and spices are less than ideal.
So do go check out Harry Brand’s Harissa Mayonnaise but perhaps give their main product a miss.