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Argan oil


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On a recent holiday in Morocco I bought some Argan oil from a Berber spice shop, as I had read that it had an interesting origin. Argan oil is made from Aragan nuts found on the Argan tree. The Argan tree is very thorny, so Berbers sent up their goats to eat the nuts. The nuts then pass though the goat and the Berbers collect them and make an araomatic oil from the goat processed nuts. It is amber coloured and smells/tastes nutty, similar to hazelnut oil.

Now that I have it I would like to use it. As I have found it being sold in supermarkets in the UK (no mention of goats though) people here in the UK must be using it. I have also seen some US recipes but they all tend to be a bit boring as they tend to use it as a drizzling oil only (is Argan oil the new Truffle oil?). I though of a Robert May medieval grand salad thing might be good with Argan oil. Any further suggestions

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Florence Fabricant wrote about argan oil in the New York Times in March. I won't reproduce the article here, but perhaps this short quote falls within the scope of fair use. The full article is available for maybe three bucks from the Times premium archive:

In Morocco, argan oil is used mainly as a finishing touch for tagines and sometimes for couscous. It is combined with lemon juice -- never vinegar -- to make a salad dressing, and mixed with honey and yogurt for breakfast.

American chefs are taking argan oil well beyond Berber dishes. At Local, Franklin Becker prepares vinaigrettes, using the toasted oil and the cold-pressed variety with red wine and Champagne vinegars, honey and beet juice. The dressings are used for a wheat berry and baby beet salad with Bleu de Bresse cheese and candied walnuts. Gerry Hayden, the executive chef at Aureole, drizzles it over a soup of pureed Jerusalem artichokes seasoned with preserved lemon, and he plans to use it with venison.

(From the Times 3/1/01)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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About a year ago, I read in Thuries Magazine that Pierre Gagnaire collaborated with the French scientist Herve This for a few special menu items.  For one, they pressed carrot juice out in a centrifuge, reduced it a bit, then emulsified it with argan oil.  To this mixture, Gagnaire and This added liquid nitrogen (whose temp is minus 200 degrees Celcius) which almost instantly turned the emulsion into a grainy granite, like snow.  Kind of incredible if you think about--even if you never think you'll try it at home.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Thanks for these suggestions. I have access to liquid nitrogen, so I could even give the argan oil granitia a try. I am surprised that nobody has used this product given the amount of press it has been given and the titilation factor.

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Argan oil seems to be getting a small amount of positive press primarily because it is produced by socially aware-seeming cooperatives in Morocco. I wonder if any food editor would bother to publish an "I hate Argan oil" opinion piece, given the obscurity of the ingredient. I've only tasted it a couple of times, but found it unpleasantly bitter. I'm sure a great chef could shoehorn it into a dish and use that bitterness (coupled with its nuttiness) to good effect, but I'm not sure I'd see the point. It's not that it's an awful-tasting product, mind you -- it's just not something I consider worthy of any hype based on its taste alone.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sorry, I'm still getting to grips with effective communication in the medium (so apologies if I came across as being rude). What I was trying to say is that even if it was mildly unpleasant or even non-descript, I would have though that these veiws would have been shared. Anyway this is proberly very boring reading for everybody so I will say no more on the topic, other than thanks for your time and information.

Best regards

Adam

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  • 2 months later...

I agree that argan oil has, with limited exceptions, an unappealing taste.  However, in two dishes recently sampled, it at least did not detract from other aspects of the dishes:

L'Espadon, at the Ritz in Paris -- Fine tarte aux truffes noires parfumee a l'huile d'Argan, doucette de Xeres (thin-crusted tart with black truffles flavored with argan oil).  Argan oil was used very sparingly in this dish.

Meneau's L'Esperence -- Brochettes de petoncles au sesame (skewers of a scallop-like item with sesame).  This dish utilized quite a lot of argan oil, but the sesame somehow offset the stench of the oil.  This dish was part of four decent-sized appetizers called "Les Petits Plats Nouveaux" (new little dishes).  The others were:

Caviar a la puree d'oignons (caviar with onion puree)

Langoustine rissollee au curry (langoustine browned with curry)

Pomme de terre, puree de celeri et truffes (potatoes with celery puree and truffles (black))

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While in France, at a restaurant called L'Auberge de la charme ( in Prenois) I tasted a very good ice cream that contained Argan Oil: glace au lait fermenté et à l'huile d'argan.  This ice cream tasted a bit like frozen yogourt with a very subtil nutty flavor.

Patrice Demers

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