Argan Oil - Is it worth it?
I've spent a fair amount of time in Morocco and can tell you that there are all kinds of issues surrounding the oil - firstly, the trees are endangered so there's that whole "do I really want to contribute to the anhiliation of yet another species? issue to wrestle with, On the other hand the entire crop is managed by impoverished women so purchasing the oil can help them and their children. From a culinary perspective, it' tastes a bit like a blend of walnut oil and a really grassy olive oil. You might want to note that it goes rancid in about three minutes :) I would imagine that, unless, you're getting it from a very reputable source, it will likely be rancid before you get it out of the store. PS, when it does go off, it's unusable.
I first purchased Argan oil because I saw it coming up time and time again while perusing my Moroccan cookbooks. I've used it in two recipes, one a sweet Moroccan couscous where the nutty flavor was absolutely essential, and also in a recipe from the Arabesque cookbook for mashed eggplant and tomato salad where you could use Argan or olive oil. We enjoyed the flavor both times.
To me it's the Moroccan equivalent of Asian toasted sesame oil. Both oils are for flavoring a dish, not for cooking.
I purchased my Argan oil from Zamori spices. 5.1 oz runs $30. It's pricey, but you don't use much so it should go a long way.
As for it going "rancid in about three minutes", I can't say. But here is a quote I found on Kirk Food about Argan oil "...as like any virgin oil, it may go rancid after a couple of years." I opened my bottle in April of this year. I've kept it in a cupboard. It's fine. It has a use by 12/2010 date on it.
Here's a link to a prior discussion about it on Chowhound http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/322008
I think I'll be making Amlou!