This popular Middle Eastern hot sauce goes by many spellings and pronunciations depending on region and language. It's known as schug, zhug, and skhug and it might be red, green, or brown. But there's one thing it always is and that's HOT.
The sauce is made from fresh red or green hot peppers and is seasoned with garlic, coriander, and cumin. Then fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro are added. A brown schug is usually a green pepper variety with tomatoes added in.
The origin of the sauce is in Yemenite cuisine, but it's now popular all throughout the countries of the Middle East and each region has its own spin on the sauce. In Israel the sauce is sometimes called harif which is a generic term for hot and spicy. It's used as an accompaniment for falafel, sabich, and shawarma, and can be found in condiment bottles at places that serve and sell those foods.
Unlike hot sauces that are primarily designed to add spice, schug is a very fresh and brightly flavored sauce. The combination of herbs, spices, and lemon give it an extraordinary flavor that is ideal drizzled over roasted vegetables, grilled meats, fish, chicken, or even eggs. It's flavor is not dependent on heat so if you shy away from hot, spicy foods, don't avoid schug. Simply use fewer peppers and be sure to remove the seeds and veins so that you have the flavor of the pepper with less of the heat. Using 2 jalapeño peppers instead of 4 will give an excellent flavor with very minor heat. But, if you consider yourself a chili head, feel free to use any hot peppers you like. Just keep some cooling sour cream or yogurt around for balance.
- 4 jalapeño peppers
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Remove the stems from the jalapeño peppers. If you like a very spicy sauce, add them whole to a food processor. If you prefer less heat, remove the seeds and veins. (Note that it's a good idea to wear gloves while working with hot peppers, as the heat can stay on your fingers and cause pain if you touch your eyes. If not wearing gloves, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling the peppers.)
Add the garlic cloves, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, ground cumin, and ground coriander to the food processor and pulse a few times to chop everything up. With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feeder tube to create an emulsion. The final sauce should still be a little chunky and have pieces of herbs in it.
Store in an air tight container and serve with pita bread, sour cream or yogurt and grilled vegetables and meat.