Zhoug sauce is a popular Middle Eastern spicy cilantro condiment. Make this Yemeni recipe to use on grilled meats or roasted vegetables.
For lovers of spicy food, green chili peppers are an essential pantry staple. Pairing them with fresh herbs and zesty spices makes for sensational and vibrant condiments!
Zhoug sauce, also known as skhug, and zhug, is the perfect example of such a condiment. Pronounced “zoog", it features fiery heat from serrano chilies and bright flavors of fresh cilantro, flat leaf parsley, and Middle Eastern spices.
The end result is a snappy bite of memorable heat!
Recipe Video: Making Zhoug Sauce
Making this recipe is beyond quick and easy. Just a few pulses in a food processor and you'll have a batch ready to use immediately. To see the recipe in action, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
A few tips:
- Add the garlic and peppers first. You'll want to crush them as fine as possible before adding the other ingredients. Otherwise, you could end up with large pieces of them in the sauce.
- Pour the olive oil in slowly. Rather than adding the oil at one time, allow it to stream in through the food chute of your food processor. This helps the oil to incorporate evenly into the mixture.
- Avoid over mixing. Although zhug looks similar to pesto and chimichurri, this spicy cilantro sauce is meant to have a chunkier texture. This way, the fresh herbs won't become gummy or pasty.
Serving Suggestions and Uses
One of the best ways to experience the full flavor of the condiment is to serve it over grilled meats or poultry. It tastes fantastic with grilled lamb koobideh, as well as on slices of fresh tomato.
Or, you can also use it as a spread on flatbread, or as a dip for roasted vegetables. Its bright, flavorful, and very spicy!
On the note of spiciness, if you have difficulty tolerating spicy food, feel free to use less serrano chiles. Alternatively, you can use a milder chile, such as poblano or even jalapeno.
On the other hand, if you like things really hot, feel free to add more to your liking!
Zhug Recipe Notes
- Keep the spicy cilantro sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator, and use it up within one week. After that, the fresh herbs will become very mushy, resulting in an unpleasant texture.
- If you won't be serving it right away, add a thin layer of olive oil on the surface of the sauce. This helps prevent it from drying out.
Zhoug Sauce - Spicy Yemeni Sauce + Video
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 serrano chiles coarsely chopped (See Note 3)
- 1 ½ oz cilantro stems removed (about 1 bunch)
- ½ oz parsley stems removed (about ⅓ bunch)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground clove
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- Place the garlic and chiles in a food processor and chop fine. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse several times to get a coarse, thick paste. Keep it slightly chunky in texture, do not over mix.
- Add more or less chiles for heat preferred. Serve over grilled meats, spooned over fresh cut tomatoes, hummus or whatever you like for an added kick of flavor.
- Store in an airtight jar in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- I add a thin layer of olive oil on top to keep fresh if not using right away.
- Makes about ⅔ cup total.
- Add more or less chiles for preferred heat. This is meant to be spicy!
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.