An edible oil obtained from the nuts grown on argan trees that is used for cooking and seasoning. Native to southwestern Morocco, the argan tree is not common in any other area of the world, although efforts are underway to grow this variety of tree in other countries. Twisted and gnarled in appearance, this tree has thorny branches that yield a green fruit containing a hard-shelled interior that covers several almond-like nuts. Eaten raw, the nuts have a bitter flavor. When processed into oil, the slower traditional methods of production generally require 20 to 30 hours of work to produce one liter of oil, which results in a product with a high price. After processing, the remaining by-product is a deep brown, thick paste referred to as "amlou", which is similar to tahini or peanut butter and is most often used as a dip or spread that is served over bread, toast, or crackers.
Argan oil has a golden yellow color with a slight reddish tint and a pleasing nutty aroma. It provides a smooth, roasted nut flavor somewhat similar to hazelnuts, but with a somewhat sharp overtone. It is commonly used as a cooking oil, as a salad dressing when mixed with lemon juice, or as a condiment.
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