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Making Argan Oil in Morocco

  • Posted by SHFT on November 17, 2011 in Food
  • Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree, an endangered species that grows in a tiny, semi-desert region of Morocco, now protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. That makes the nutty-flavored argan oil one of one of the rarest oils in the world.

    The anonymous cook behind grade A food blog Not Without Salt is currently traveling through Morocco, and her latest post gives readers front row seats at the traditional process of making argan oil: 

    In this particular cooperative each step of the process is still done by hand including the grinding of the nuts that are crushed between two stones. In the kitchen the oil is used similar to that of a fine olive oil – as a dip for bread, to boost the flavor of couscous and as a salad dressing. Because of the expense, argan oil is used sparingly. It’s flavor is rich and intense so a little is all that is needed.

    Amlou, a Moroccan breakfast staple, is a chunky paste made from argan oil, toasted almonds and honey, "similar to peanut butter if peanut butter was a perfectly sweet, deeply flavored, runny spread perfect for Moroccan fried bread." 

    Amlou

    from Paula Wolfert’s, The Food of Morocco

    I realize that seeking out argan oil may seem a bit much of me to ask but it will be worth it, I assure you. Beware of imitation oils. Paula Wolfert recommends ordering argan oil from either chefshop.com,mustaphas.com or zamourispices.com

    Amlou makes a perfect accompaniment for toast, pancakes, waffles or just about anything.

    8 ounces almonds, blanched, peeled and toasted until golden brown

    1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

    ½ cup argan oil

    ¼ cup (or to taste) light honey, such as orange blossom

    If you have a mortar and pestle grind the almonds in it with the salt. Once a smooth paste has formed slowly add the argan oil as if you were making mayonnaise. When the oil has been added and the mixture is smooth and creamy, add the honey a spoonful at a time. You can also make the amlou in a food processor, it just won’t have quite the same consistency. Store amlou in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. It will keep for about one month.

    (via Not Without Salt)


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