Tacos turn up heat with harissa mayo


July 30, 2008|By Joe Gray | Joe Gray,Chicago Tribune

Tacos are a traditional food of Mexico, sure, but they also provide a canvas for endless improvisation. This version is mostly true to its roots until you get to the topping, flavored with North African harissa.

Made with red chiles, spices and oil, the sauce delivers a spiciness that can vary in heat levels. Stirred into mayonnaise, an idea borrowed from Wave Restaurant in Chicago, it makes a crowd-pleasing dip for fingerling potatoes or a topping for just about any savory dish, such as these tacos. You'll have plenty left over from this dish to experiment.

Look for harissa sauce in larger grocery stores or Middle Eastern markets. Before using, taste a bit to check the heat level.

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the nutritional analysis.


Makes 4 servings

1 to 2 teaspoons bottled or canned harissa sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 small jicama, diced (about 1 cup)

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, diced

1 small red onion, diced

juice from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt (divided use)

freshly ground pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Stir the harissa into mayonnaise in a small bowl; taste for spiciness. Add more harissa or more mayonnaise according to taste; set aside.

Prepare a grill for medium heat. Meanwhile, combine the jicama, avocado and onion in a bowl; stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste.

Season chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste. Grill, turning as needed, until done. Cut chicken into small dice, or shred (cubes will be faster; shredding gives better texture). Warm tortillas on the grill until softened.

Divide chicken among tortillas; top with about 2 tablespoons of jicama mixture. Add 1/2 teaspoon harissa mayonnaise or to taste; top with cilantro. Fold tortilla around filling.

Note: Look for harissa sauce in larger grocery stores or Middle Eastern markets.

Per serving: 460 calories, 22 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrate, 26 grams protein, 711 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber


Get family-friendly recipes from food editor Kate Shatzkin's parenting blog at baltimoresun.com/charmcitymoms. Today's recipe: Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

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