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Zhug

Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:27:34 -0800
“Zhug” or “skhug” is a wonderful Yemenite spicy sauce that's traditionally served with falafel. Of course today we use it for any dish that its spicy flavor will compliment.

Two methods of preparation are presented, the way it was done in the old days before today's conveniences ("classic" section), and making the sauce in the modern kitchen using a food processor ("contemporary" section).

Ingredients:

  • coriander, whole* 1/4 tsp
  • cumin, whole* 1/2 tsp
  • cardamom pods, seeds, toasted* 3
  • freshly ground black pepper 1/4 tsp
  • garlic, roughly chopped 4 cloves
  • chilies, fresh Thai, chopped† 4 to 6
  • salt 1/2-1 tsp
  • parsley, cilantro, fresh 2 oz (2 cups)
  • extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup
Classic method:
  1. Combine coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind into a powder using a firm, circular motion.
  2. Add garlic, chilies, and salt and pound into a rough paste.
  3. Add cilantro and parsley one small handful at a time and continue pounding into a rough paste. (By the time you're done, there should be no pieces of chilies or herbs larger than 1/8 inch remaining.)
  4. Continue grinding and slowly drizzle in olive oil to form an emulsion.
  5. Jump to "Serving and storing" below.
Contemporary method:
Same ingredients but uses ground spices instead of whole.
  • coriander, ground 1/4 tsp
  • cumin, ground 1/2 tsp
  • cardamom, ground 1/4 tsp
  1. Place spices, garlic, chiles and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times.
  2. Divide cilantro and parsley into 4-5 batches then add one batch at a time through the feed tube. Process to get a coarse blend.
  3. While processor is running gradually add the olive oil. The mixture should emulsify fairly quickly.
  4. When ingredients look more or less evenly mixed, consider it done.
Serving and storing:
  1. Regardless of preparation method, Zhug can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.
*If whole coriander, cumin or cardamom aren't available, substitute ground spices.

†Thai chiles can be red or green, it's a matter of taste. If not available you could use just about any hot chiles, for example, fresh serrano chiles. Dried chile de arbol will work, remove stems and seeds, and tear into small pieces.

If you have the time and equipment, and the physical ability, it's worth trying both methods. You might like the mortar and pestle version better. While its texture is slightly coarser and less uniform, hand grinding exerts greater tearing and crushing force on the ingredients potentially extracting more intense flavor from them. Naturally mileage varies quite a bit—try it both ways to find out how much difference you notice.

categories: middle-east, sauces

About Thinair Recipes

Recipes developed specifically for low-sodium diets—so easy to use! Here's a quick guide. Ingredients are in boxes:

  • garlic, chopped 3 cloves

Recipes can have several ingredient boxes showing stuff needed for numbered step-by-step instrucions:

  1. Saute garlic in oil until soft.
  2. Add chicken stock to pan...

Not too complicated!

BTW when "salt" is an ingredient, it refers to KCl or "salt substitute", not NaCl in any form! Ask your doctor if that's OK, KCl may not be healthy for some people.