Pronounced like "zoog", this exotic sounding sauce is easier to make than you'd think! It's highly flavorful, super simple, and a perfect pairing for just about any protein. This simple Asian sauce is loaded with vibrant flavors along with a beautiful piquancy (chef speak for a sharp, spicy flavor profile, aka yummy). Much like chimichurri, this sauce goes incredibly well with some flat iron steak and rice.
Zhoug or Spicy Cilantro Sauce
I first researched a sauce that was of Asian/Mediterranean origins when I went to Shenzen, China to service a UFC fight. Since most of the athletes in that card were of Asian descent, I felt the need to add a couple sauces that were true to their culture. Zhoug sauce - aka spicy cilantro sauce - was one I found and fell in love with.
This super simple sauce takes not time to prepare. Make sure you wash your vegetables and herbs before blending them! There's nothing worse than a grainy sauce.
- 1 1/2 bunches of cilantro, fresh
- 3 each garlic cloves, fresh
- 5 small jalapeños, seeded
- ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
- ½ teaspoon cardamon, ground
- ¼ teaspoon Red pepper flake
- ½ cup avocado oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Cutting Board
Step One: Wash and Cut the Cilantro and Jalapeño
Wash the cilantro and jalapeño under running cold water.
If you have time, fill a medium bowl with ice and water and submerge the cilantro completely into the icy water and leave unbothered for ten minutes. This will 'shock' and brighten the green pigment of the cilantro, making it a live green, and it will also wash away any dirt present on the leaves.
Cut the stems of the cilantro and toss.
Remove the top of each jalapeño, slice in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white veins. Discard seeds.
Culinary tip: Wear gloves while cutting jalapeños. If you don't have plastic gloves, wash hands immediately after cutting the peppers.
If you desire extra heat in your sauce, remove only half the seeds. Seeds is where the heat (piquancy) lives for the most part.
Step Two: Blend Ingredients
Add all ingredients to a blender except for the oil.
Before starting the blender, begin pouring the oil slowly into the blender (remove the top or the middle plastic guard of the lid if one exists). Then turn on the blender and increase the speed to medium as you slowly continue to add the rest of the oil until all ingredients are pureed into an emulsified sauce.
The medium constant speed along with a steady stream of oil create a perfect emulsification situation. A slow speed + adding the oil too fast will only cause the sauce to break or not be emulsified - make sure you get both speed and oil stream right.
Stop the blender, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.
This sauce will last well in the fridge for a week. Store in an air-tight container or bottle for optimal shelf life. After a week, the bright green color may start to turn darker brown. The sauce will last longer under refrigeration, but for optimal flavor and color, aim to use sauce within one to max two weeks.
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