Argan Oil, which is also known as the gold of Morocco has long been no more secret among gourmets,
and anyway I like to experiment with oils, it was only a matter of time before I had to try the much acclaimed oil. Before I get to taste and potential applications, first some background:
Origin and Production
The oil is extracted from fruit of the Argan tree, which grows exclusively in southwest Morocco, an area that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
Traditionally, the extraction of Argan oil is a task of the Berber women: In laborious handwork they split the nuclei of the fruits with stones to get to the inner almonds, which they grind and knead until finally the oil is extracted. A complex process, which explains the high prices in this country (around 100 € / liter): To produce a liter of oil, it takes just under 40 kg fruit that corresponds to the harvest of 4-5 trees.
There is also the mechanical production of the oils, which however qualitatively takes a second place. Then the complete kernels are pressed together with their bitter peel, and one also tastes this.
Depending on whether the Argan almonds are roasted before grinding or not, there is a difference in taste, even if they are produced by hand.
Argan oil from roasted almonds is brown in color and tastes nutty. It has a powerful smell. Without roasting, one obtains clear oil, which is much more gentle and softer in taste.
Both the varieties remind you a bit of sesame oil, but are round and milder, and do not have that slightly bitter taste, that sesame oil is known for. The oil is very present, individual: The resulting combination products must tolerate this dominant character - this will be well considered, to benefit the courts thereof, and which combination would be better, because either everything else will be slain by the oil or the finished product would be sent to the spice bazaar rather than convincing with clear and definite nuances.
The oil is certainly too expensive to fry something in it (only if it is also suitable for it and that is practiced in Morocco, like, for example, for lamb) - It clearly has to give its quality / taste as refiners, as a cold Spice oil to round it off or just for some of the finished dish with its character.
Argan oil is often praised for its health-promoting qualities. Here as it is called, among other things, the proportion of tocopherol (forms of vitamin E, which serve as free radical scavengers), of 620 mg / kg, but is rather average. Rapeseed oil for example, has a similar value.
The amount of phytosterols, plant compounds that can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body is slightly below average as compared to other edible oils, but still worth mentioning:
Because the Phytosterine Schottenol and Spinasterol occur here, which do not occur either in other types of oil or only in smaller quantities. Schottenol is reputed to have anti-tumor effect, Spinasterol is cell stimulating.
Practical application and recipes
The applications of Argan oil are diverse, in spite of its intense nature. Salad dressings or marinades, fish, meat, vegetables and desserts can be given a special touch with it. Traditionally the Berber, eat a spoonful of Argan oil with honey and bread, a really good combination and it fits the couscous just as you can reinterpret Tatar or savory crepes.
For 2 People
Cook 250 g (8, 8 oz) couscous in boiling water according to instructions.
Heat 300 g (10, 5 oz) of steamed spinach. 300g (10, 5 oz) carrots peeled and cut into crosswise slices.
Peel two onions into quarter, open, and cook along with the carrots in a little olive oil until it is firm to the bite.
As soon as they are roasted (the onions must have black edges) and soft but still firm to the bite, mix it with the couscous and spinach, heat and season with two finely chopped cloves of garlic, a short piece of minced ginger, lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper and then round off with four tablespoons Argan oil and serve immediately.