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Lacto-Fermented Schug Hot Sauce

Written By Culinary Pen on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 | 4:29:00 PM

Riding the capsicum-high of my first batch of lacto-fermented hot sauce, I dove right into a new batch.  To switch things up a bit I tried out fermenting my new favorite hot sauce, the Yemeni schug.  I first encountered schug last October when Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov, of Philadephia's Zahav fame, was scheduled to do a wine dinner for our local NPR station.
Schug and Eggs
Schug, also spelled Zhug, made its way from Yemen to Israel in the migration of Jews to Israel.  Today the serrano chile-filled sauce is widely consumed throughout Israel and is considered to be quite the health tonic for long-life.

To make the fermented Schug, I followed Solomonov's recipe of halved serrano chiles, garlic cloves, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, fresh cilantro, parsley, and salt.  I omitted the lemon juice and oil, as I was not sure how they would impact the fermenting process.

The fermenting came in when I crushed the chiles in the bottom of a mason jar and spooned over a few ladles of bacteria-rich brine from my sauerkraut fermenting pot.

Eight weeks later we have the delicious sauce pictured above (after blitzing into sauce in a food processor).  I love how the floral, beguiling flavor of the cardamom is still shining through, even after fermentation.  The sauce itself isn't as bright as my first batch, but this schug was made with store bought serrano chiles.  Using local, fresh chiles that were not subjected to the rigors of packing and transit might be why my first batch of hot sauce was so vibrant and fresh-tasting.  But this fermented schug didn't lose any of its heat!  I love splashing it on eggs, burritos, and roasted chicken, savoring the exotic spice, heat, and dreaming of my next batch.

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