If you don’t know zhug or zhoug sauce, aka Israeli Chimichurri Sauce, or Salsa Verde you need to get up on it!
I love hot sauce. I mean who doesn’t, but I really really love hot sauce. When I travel domestically or internationally I make it point to sample the local hot stuff. Though I haven’t been to Israel yet, a friend recommended I try and make zhug. Of course I couldn’t pronounce the shit; it looks like Shug but sounds like sklug. Don’t fret the only thing confusing or challenging about the dish is the pronunciation. The dish itself is pretty straightforward.
From here on out I’ll just refer to it as Israeli Chimichurri, which provides a good visual of the dish and is much easier to pronounce. This week’s sauce meal prep is all about this fiery green sauce. I’m in straight headbanger mode as I crank out four different sauces. Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” is on repeat at volume way past 10!
What is Zhug aka Israeli Chimichurri?
Similar to its South American cousin, Israeli Chimichurri is a mixture of fresh herbs, olive oil, citrus, and spices. Where it differs is the in the use of green chiles and types of spices. Israeli chimichurri packs some heat due to the presence of green chiles like serrano, jalapeño, or Thai. The spice blend is quite uncommon as it may be the only hot sauce or condiment that uses cardamom. The unique combination of spices, herbs, and chiles nets a sauce that is refreshing, aromatic, earthy, vibrant in color, and tasty with a lil bit of heat.
How to use Israeli Chimichurri
The flavor profile makes it quite versatile; use it:
- On grilled meats
- As a dip for bread especially pita
- To top eggs
- Or if you’re like me and like sweet-heat combinations try it with fruit like ripe melons
- Falafel such as these Black-eyed Pea Falafel Cakes
Israeli Chimichurri Key Tips
- Adjust the heat level as you see fit. Keep or remove as many seeds from the chiles to adjust your heat levels.
- A little cardamom goes a very long way so be careful
- Don’t make a special trip to the grocery story. Use whatever herbs you have on hand. Similarly any type of green chili will do. And if cardamom isn’t in your spice cabinet, exclude and rely on cumin and coriander.
- I added kale for additional health benefits and substance
Dope beats, fresh eats, best life. Enjoy this simple to make complex tasting Zhoug Sauce.
Israeli Chimichurri Sauce (Zhug)
Shug aka Israeli Chimichurri is a traditional Israeli condiment used on pretty much all foods Israeli. Similar to Argentinian version combines olive oil with citrus and green herbs for a chunky or smooth topping for grilled meats, eggplant, falafels, etc.
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp cardamom spice
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 serrano chiles stemmed and quartered
- 1 bunch cilantro chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- Juice from 1 whole lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Combine the coriander, cardamom, and cumin seeds in a small pan over medium high heat. Toast until fragrant (roughly 2 minutes) then remove from the heat and cool.
When cool grind in spice grinder then set aside.
Combine kale, spices, chiles, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the desired consistency then season with salt and pepper.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or use immediately as a condiment/topping.