How to make fermented Skhug.
Skhug is a hot sauce that has its roots in Yemen – it has the consistency of pesto but a fiery and intoxicating flavour and heat to give even kimchi a run for its money. The flavour profile of Skhug is deep, green, hot and robust – it is the perfect condiment to add complexity to a main dish or sandwich and it is usually found as a companion to falafel in the middle east. I discovered Skhug whilst travelling and thought that a fermented version would rock! The coriander and parsley, which are some of the main ingredients, have a high chlorophyll content and therefore don’t ferment very well – turning into a kind of black mush. So to create a fermented version of Skhug, we need to ferment the other components first and then blend in with the fresh herbs when ready to serve and store.
- 3 bunches of fresh coriander, washed and left to drain.
- 2 bulbs of garlic.
- 3 large hot green peppers, stems removed
- Handful of small hot red peppers, stems removed
- 2 limes
- 1 tsp (5 g) cardamom, ground
- 1 tsp (5g) cumin, ground
- 1 tsp (6g) salt
- 1 tsp (6g) pepper, ground
- Between ½ cup and ¼ of olive oil.
Step 1 – The fermented bit:
- De-stem and slice the hot green peppers and set aside.
- De-stem the small hot red peppers and set aside.
- Peel and prepare the garlic and set the cloves aside.
- Add 50g of salt to a litre of filtered water.
- Take a mason / kilner jar or other appropriate vessel for fermentation and add in the peppers, chilli and garlic.
- Pour over the salt brine and use a weight of some description – either cabbage leaves followed by a boiled stone / or a sandwich bag filled with water – to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine.
- Leave at an ambient temperature for between 5 – 7 days.
- Voila! A fermented fiery concoction ready to be blended with your other ingredients!
Step 2 – Bringing the Skhug together:
- Use a food processor or blender to shred the coriander and parsley.
- Add the juice of 2 limes, the olive oil, and pulse into a green paste.
- Add the fermented garlic and pulse until incorporated well.
- Add the fermented hot green pepper and red chilli and pulse – you know when you have arrived at the right pallette when dark green is the more prominent colour,, interspersed with the small red flecks of red chilli.
- Add the remaining spices of cumin, cardamom, pepper and salt.
- Give it a few final pulses and serve!
- You could leave the mixture out on the counter for a few hours for the flavours to merge until refrigerating for later use.