Rose Gold Oil

I don’t think I am saying anything original here, but I’ll state it nonetheless: much of the magic of Moroccan cuisine comes from the spice mixtures, marinades, flavoured oils and other homemade condiments that make up some of the staples in a North African larder. It goes without saying that this is evident throughout Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco, the book under review by The Cookbook Guru for March and April.

The most famous (or as Wolfert indicates – infamous) mixtures include Ras el Hanout, meaning “top (or head) of the shop”, a name given to a number of elaborate mixtures from a selection of the spice seller’s best (i.e. “top-shelf”) spices, or the popular hot chilli and garlic paste known as Harissa. These are now common ingredients in many kitchens, even though they may be store-bought and pre-made in little jars and tins. Cooking from Wolfert’s book, however, brought home to me the real taste difference in creating your own mixtures. There is something rather thereputic about grinding and pounding, releasing the aromas of the spices and creating a complex of flavours. And, of course, you are assured it is fresh! As Paula Wolfert points out, as soon as you grind the spices, they begin to die. They slowly loose their flavour, becoming ghosts of their former vibrant selves.

But, much as I love the taste and aromas of roasted cumin seeds, garlic and other spices in chermoula marinades and the freshly chooped herbs in the za’atar mixtures, it was the simple condiments made with single spices that made a big impression on me as I cooked my way through The Food of Morocco. First, there was the saffron water which I described in my post, A Most Unusual Tagine, and then it was the bright paprika oil that I discovered imbedded within the recipe for Tagra of Fresh Sardines. Both of these condiments are not only incredibly versitile, but beautiful in clear jewelled colours like topaz or rose gold.

paprika_oil_feature

Hot Paprika Oil
Paula Wolfert explains that this is a sepcialty of northern Morocco, where it is produced by boiling the spice and oil with a little water. Although most of the water evaporates in the process, there is always a little left which settles at the bottom. I’ve adapted the recipe to reduce the amount of water. The water is, however, essential in preventing the paprika from burning in the oil, so do not be tempted to omit it.

  • 2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspon cayenne pepper
  • 60ml water
  • 160ml extra virgin olive oil

Place the olive oil in a pot and heat until just shimmering, at that point just before boiling. Add the spices and water and stir. Keep it at this simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool in the pot.

paprika_oil_prep1

Once cool, filter the oil through a sheet of kitchen paper or through a coffee filter, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pot. Be patient as it drips very slowly. Discard the sediment. Or, find ways of cooking with the paprika sludge – such as in a Paprikás, a Hungarian stew, the sauce made with a paprika based roux. (By the way, it worked beautifully with my leftover paprika sediment!)

paprika_oil_sludge

Bottle the filtered oil. It is best to make in small quantities and used before more is made.

paprika_oil

Some Uses:

  • Rubbed into the skin of roast chicken
  • Coating on baked chicken or fish – especially paired with citrus and green olives
  • Drizzled in soups
  • Added to hummous or other dips
  • On roast potatoes or other root vegetables
  • Brushed on grilled meats and fish
  • On pasta
  • In salad dressings
  • Anywhere olive oil is used – be inventive!
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28 comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    As March is maturing we are digging into Paula Wolfert’s wonderful book The Food of Morocco. My Kitchen Witch has just shared another wonderful post about Rose Gold Oil. I think Glenda has started a love affair for at least one other member with this book. I can’t wait to dig into my recently obtained library copy this weekend and join in the fun.

    Happy Reading and Happy Cooking,

    Leah

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  2. wow, this sounds divine! I’m in the process of preserved lemons for the first time at the moment and just waiting for some daylight to make Tomato magic 🙂

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    • It is really wonderful. Love preserved lemons even though they use an indecent amount of salt! Are you posting on these soon? It really is a fun book to cook from. And, of course, my family is loving the results.

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    • Definitely magic in a bottle! Used some of the oil already to fry some breadcrumbs, plus the sludge was used to make a chicken paprikàs. Yummy! And, well spotted – the ceramic spoon is Polish, but the dish is Jordanian. I’ll have insert little Polish ceramics into my photos to see if you spot them all. Kind of like Where’s Waldo. 😁

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      • Oh yum, I will use the sludge for chicken paprikas for sure, I do a Hungarian paprika chicken dish that the boys love so I could use it as the base. I am super looking forward to ‘spotting the Polish pottery’ game. We call it ‘where’s wally!’ 😁

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    • You know, Paula Wolfret does not say, but I just did a little internet searching – as I was wondering the same thing. Most sources said about 6 months for this sort of spice-infused oil. It is shorter, of course, if you infuse fresh herbs (or similar fresh things like garlic). Basically, the shelf-life depends on the infusing ingredient. I would also be on the safe side, keep it well sealed and store it in a dark place that doesn’t get too warm – just as you do with regular olive oil.

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  3. What a beautiful colour! I actually bought Paula Wolfert’s book for my parents for Christmas, but couldn’t read it first as it was all wrapped up…I’ll have to see if I can borrow it back!
    Beck

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  4. Lovely colour and handy oil. I like the note regarding water. Last week I made some chilli oil ( just oil and dried chillies) and they burnt within seconds, leaving everyone choking and coughing until the chilli smoke left the house. Must try this one as it would have some more middle eastern depth of flavour.

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    • Done that, too! Second attempt at making this oil really burned. Had to open all the doors and windows to get the acrid, smoky fumes out of the kitchen. I was amazed at how the simple addition of a little water helps. Alchemy, I guess.

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  5. […] Note: Make extra bean dip, thin it with hot water and serve it as a soup. Sicilians add little pastas, such as digitali to their maccu, which makes a more substantial soup. Sprinkle on more of the cumin-salt mixture and drizzle on a little hot paprika infused olive oil. […]

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