Zhoug, meet everything I eat
Although it looks like a classic basil pesto, proper attention should be paid to zhoug. This spicy, garlicky, herby paste is so exciting, after making it a few times you may even start to choose it over hot sauce. The verdant Yemenite condiment may look like mild-mannered, but if you use enough chiles, look out—zhoug (also known as zhug, skhug, and sahawiq) packs a wallop. As with most homemade condiments, you’ll want to experiment a bit with amounts of herbs and seasonings, so treat this recipe as more of an outline than a command. Once you nail your ideal version, you’ll want to slather zhoug everything from home fries to bubbling bowls of shakshuka.
Trim, seed, and quarter 2 jalapeños. Place the chiles in food processor or blender along with 1½ cups roughly chopped cilantro, ½ cups roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, and 2 fat garlic cloves. Pulse the mixture a few times, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets chopped evenly.
Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon dried coriander, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the mixture and pulse to combine.
With the food processor’s motor running, slowly stream in ⅓ cup of good olive oil. Puree the mixture until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of water and pulse a few times.
Like fresh pesto, zhoug should be eaten within a day or so, but if you find yourself with a surplus of herbs and a desire to blend, you can make a larger batch of the condiment and freeze it in ice cube trays (then stored in a freezer bag) or a freezer-safe container.
Zhoug is pure magic when whisked into scrambled eggs and cooked over low heat. It also makes a killer base for other sauces and dips—mix it into Greek yogurt with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, or into hummus with finely chopped roasted red peppers or kalamata olives. It may seem simple, but as a great lover of sandwiches, something I think there’s no better way to celebrate zhoug than to smear it on a bacon, egg, and cheese.