Is Harissa Supposed to Be That Bitter?

Harissa is a luscious Tunisian condiment made from chili paste and spices. You can make your own, but good luck finding the North African peppers commonly used in its preparation. Canned harissa is another option, but it's extremely bitter, says prunefeet. "I just picked up some harissa, it's a Tunisian brand and comes in a can ... it's hot and very bitter," says prunefeet. "Should it be so bitter? The bitterness kind of obscures any other flavor."

"I've had canned harissas that are unpalatably bitter as well," says CoconutMilk. "I think part of it is the canning process and part of it is the bitterness of the types of peppers used in the paste. My homemade versions have also been a little bitter, which I suppose comes from the guajillo, ancho, and other dried chiles I've used."

"I use Le Phare du Cap Bon, which is Tunisian and comes in a tube," says Harters. "Not bitter and nicely hot and spicy."

Discuss: Harissa – should it be so bitter?