How to make h’rous

In the summer of 2019, the beloved Oakland restau­rant Flora hosted a book club dinner with a menu inspired by my novel Sourdough. (You’ll find it documented here.) One of executive chef Rebecca Boice’s ingre­di­ents was a spicy sauce called h’rous. There’s vanish­ingly little infor­ma­tion about it on the web, so I thought I’d share her notes here, with the hope that curious googlers will find it:

Rebecca Boice discov­ered h’rous in Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vege­tarian Feasts. It begins with:

2 poundssliced red onions
1/2 cupsalt
2 Tbspturmeric
6 ouncesdried chipotle or New Mexico chile peppers (Rebecca likes to mix; ancho is good, too)
5 Tbspcaraway seeds
1/3 cupcoriander seeds
3 Tbspdried rose buds (Bay Area resident: get them at Oaktown!)
1 tspground cinnamon
1/2 cupextra virgin olive oil, plus more to cover (Robin recommends Fat Gold)

Toss the onions, salt, and turmeric in a bowl, then let them sit out (yes!) at room temper­a­ture (yes!!) for approx­i­mately three days. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and check up on it daily, giving it a stir each time. The onions are ready when they’re soft and translucent.

After that’s done, drain the onions well. (Rebecca squeezes them by hand, with gloves.) Pulse them in small batches in a food processor until they’re mostly broken down.

Then: stem, seed, and lightly toast the chile peppers. That means maybe two minutes in a 300-degree oven; you’ll smell them. Rebecca’s caution: be careful handling dried chiles, espe­cially when they become powdery! That stuff will ruin your day!

Let the chiles cool, then grind them in a spice grinder and add the rest of your spices. Finally, combine the chile/spice mix with the onion mix and blend it all together in a food processor. When it’s mostly combined, stream in your olive oil.

Rebecca also relays a tip from Paula Wolfert, who likes to add about 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomato, re-hydrated with a bit of water; this provides sweetness and rounds out the flavor. If you want to try that, add the tomatoes at the same time you add the spices.


August 2019