Zhoug, also known as schug, zhug or zoug, is a chunky hot sauce originating from Yemen. Green chilis, garlic, cilantro, and parsley make them spicy, bold, and fragrant. Warming spices like cumin, coriander, and cardamom give it complex flavors.
It’s a versatile condiment that can be used in so many ways—for dipping, drizzling, saucing, marinating, and much more!
How to Make Zhoug
For this recipe, I use jalapeños, but you can use any spicy green chili like bird’s eye chili. They are very fiery so I would recommend using 1 or 2 only.
Zhoug is traditionally made by toasting spices, roasting the garlic, and then combining them with coarsely chopped herbs and chilis. The resulting zhoug is smoky and has a mild yet rich flavor of roasted garlic. This takes some time to make.
The most common and by far the easiest way to make zhoug is as I do in this recipe—in a food processor! It takes less time and involves less washing up. Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until coarse and still a little chunky. The key is not to overprocess the herbs, which will become unpleasantly bitter. This zhoug is all the more delicious because it’s so easy to prepare!
If you don’t have a food processor, use a sharp knife to finely chop the herbs, chilis, and garlic. Then, stir in the ground spices, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Uses for Zhoug
Zhoug is commonly drizzled over wraps and sandwiches such as falafel and sabich, an Israeli sandwich—pita stuffed with fried eggplants, hard boiled eggs, and chopped salad. There are so many ways zhoug can be enjoyed in everyday cooking. Here are some I love:
- A marinade for chicken, lamb, fish, or shellfish
- Drizzled over hummus or labneh
- A spicy sauce to compliment grilled meats or roasted vegetables
- An alternative to pesto, stirred with pasta
- Swirled into soups
- Reinvigorate any coleslaw by stirring a spoonful or two into it
- Drizzled over fried, poached, or scrambled eggs
Plan Ahead: Zhoug Must Rest
Ideally, make zhoug at least 1 hour before serving so that the herbs, spices, and garlic meld and settle into a more tasty sauce. The punch of garlic and chilis will mellow a little too.
How to Store Zhoug
Zhoug can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Make sure to store it in an air-tight container or a clean lidded jar. Bring it up to room temperature before serving—the olive oil will harden when cold.
Team Green (Condiments and Sauces)
If you cannot find ground cardamom seeds, use the seeds from 5 cardamom pods.
- 4 jalapeños
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
- 3/4 cup firmly packed fresh parsley, leaves and tender stems only
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons water, as needed
- Food processor
Prepare the jalapeños and garlic:
Cut the stems off the jalapeños. Take a tiny taste of one and if it’s spicy, remove some or all the seeds, if you’d like. Zhoug is supposed to be spicy, but you can adjust the spice level to your liking. Roughly chop and add them to the food processor along with the garlic. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
Add the herbs and spices:
Add the cilantro, parsley, ground cumin, ground cardamom seeds, and ground coriander, and pulse until the herbs are coarsely chopped. After a few pulses, stop and scrape down any big pieces of herb stuck to the side of the bowl, then pulse again.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice:
Add the olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, and salt, and pulse until the mixture is evenly combined. It will not be smooth. It will be chunky and coarse with visible pieces of herbs and garlic.
Add the water, if needed:
If your zhoug seems too stiff, pulse in water, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 3 tablespoons, to loosen it up.
Taste and adjust seasoning:
Taste the sauce and add more salt, sugar, or lemon juice, if needed. It should be spicy, lemony, bright, and fresh.
Rest the zhoug:
Transfer the zhoug into a bowl or lidded container. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top to lightly cover it, about 1 tablespoon. Tightly cover it with plastic wrap or a lid. Let it rest for a minimum of 1 hour on your kitchen counter for the flavors to meld. Anything longer than an hour, pop it into the fridge.
Zhoug can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
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