The Best Zhoug Sauce
Zhoug is a spicy condiment made of cilantro, fresh chili peppers, and spices that originated in Yemen. When Trader Joe’s came out with their Zhoug sauce, everyone freaked, including me. Zhoug is herby aromatic and packs a nice punch, meaning it’s spicy. It is everything you want in a condiment, except the Trader Joe’s version lays in a pool of canola oil. NO THANK YOU. I am not a huge fan of canola oil, because it is extremely carcinogenic and was initially used for steam engines during WWII (for real, look it up HERE ). After discovering this, I chose to avoid the stuff as much as I can. It’s not always completely avoidable, but I at least try not to drink the stuff. I loved the flavor of the Zhoug sauce, especially the combination of heat from the peppers and warmth from the spices. Since I didn’t feel great about consuming the one at TJ’s, I decided to try to make my own!
Does anyone else have issues when making herby dips? I could never crack the code when it came to pesto or Chimichurri. I always blended the herbs up in a food processor and slowly added the olive oil like all the recipes say to do. It never failed that I would end up with a sauce that was more fluffy than runny. You know how store-bought pesto is perfectly runny and is just begging to have a baguette dipped into it? Well, mine never turned out that way. I had the same issue the first time I tried to make Zhoug. The flavor was on point, but I couldn’t get the texture right.
I did a little more research online and saw one recipe that said to mix the oil in with a spoon instead of blending it into the food processor. Basically what you do is blend the herbs and peppers into a paste and everything is broken down, you transfer the paste into a bowl and mix the oil. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? The consistency was exactly what I was looking for, and I can’t wait to try this method with pesto this summer!
If heat is not your thing, feel free to customize this recipe to your liking! You can start by adding 1/4 of each pepper. If you do not have access to Serranos or Fresno peppers, use jalapeno peppers. You can also take the seeds out to bring down the spice.
If you are stumped about what to use Zhoug for here are a couple ideas!
dip bread into it
spread on eggs
dollop onto hummus
spread it on a sandwich
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!