This month is a bit different -- instead of focusing on a specific cuisine, we’re looking back at some of the tastiest parts of this otherwise rather difficult year! This box includes five of the most often-requested items from previous boxes, all with an eye toward things that make great tastes as straightforward as possible – 4 sauces and 1 herb blend that on their own transform just about everything they touch. Plus, a fun chocolate bar to finish things off.
Here's what's in the box:
* Harissa (Villa Jerada)
* Lemongrass Paste (Angkor Food)
* Ají Panca Cooking Sauce (Zócalo Gourmet)
* Greek Table Blend (Spice Tree Organics)
* Zhong Dumpling Sauce (Fly By Jing)
* Moroccan Mint Dark Chocolate Bee Bar (Rococo)
Harissa (Villa Jerada)
This was a standout from our very first box – Spain-ish – and remains one of our most re-requested. Made with preserved lemons and delicious Moroccan olive oil, it manages to be both a spice paste and a spread. You can use it as a dip or for seasoning, but it’s most at home slathered on a piece of bread, underneath a runny egg. Here are some of my favorite uses:
1) Spread on toast, potentially along with ali i oli, to be topped with a fried egg, avocado, or both. Also great on a cold cut sandwich or inside a grilled cheese.
2) In a vinaigrette dressing: An incredibly easy dressing is to juice a lemon or two, add a dollop of the Villa Jerada harissa, shallot or green onion, salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of good olive oil. You can get fancier with some fresh herbs, yogurt, mayo, or ali i oli. Shake/mix/blend well, and you're all set.
3) As a topping on a Mediteranean-flavored rice or grain dish, or of course, a Moroccan tagine!
Lemongrass Paste (Angkor Food)
A standout from our Thai and Cambodia box, this paste – also known as Kroeung – serves as a beautiful, herbaceous base for many Cambodian dishes (from curries to soups to steak skewers). A blend of lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, galangal, garlic, chilis, and fermented koji, it brings a bit of heat and a bit of funk along with that trademark lemongrass flavor. The koji is in lieu of fish sauce, making this sauce fully plant-based, as well!
You can also use this in more traditional Thai preparations, where lemongrass is also a key ingredient – like fried rice or a panang curry. Angkor Foods is a delicious producer of small-batch Cambodian ingredients, many of which are also used in Thai cuisine.
Ají Panca Cooking Sauce (Zócalo Gourmet)
This sauce didn’t quite make it into the Peru box, but that was due to the way we wanted to showcase different Peruvian peppers. As a standalone, this might just be the very best grilling marinade you can find.
Ají panca is among the milder of Peruvian peppers, so this should be a real crowd pleaser. Simply toss whatever you want to roast (meat, tofu, whatever) in this sauce, add some oil, and you're good to go!
Greek Table Blend (Spice Tree Organics)
The most re-requested item from the Taste of Greece box, this blend is perfect as a seasoning for just about any protein (including beans), and especially ones that can handle some bold flavor.
Based in Queens, Spice Tree Organics co-founders Doaa and Freda make incredible, organic, non-irradiated spice blends, sourcing directly from top-notch suppliers like Burlap and Barrel. They roast, grind, and hand-blend the spices in small batches and then vacuum seal them, to ensure you get them still super fresh.
Zhong Dumpling Sauce (Fly By Jing)
Originally an (often re-ordered) add-on to the Sichuan box, this dumpling sauce absolutely transforms dumplings, of course, but you can also drizzle it atop steamed vegetables, grilled meat or tofu, or use it as a base sauce for a wok stir fry.
Proudly made in Chengdu (Sichuan’s provincial capital), this is a blend of aromatic "fuzhi" soy sauce, slow-brewed with brown sugar, mushrooms, garlic, and a blend of spices. It’s sweet, tangy, spicy, and umami-rich all at once.
Moroccan Mint Dark Chocolate Bee Bar (Rococo)
A refreshing and tasty after-dinner treat, this is a 65% cocoa dark chocolate bar. Enjoy!