Welcome back, spice lovers, today we tackle the mighty Zhoug!
Not that it's actually that powerful of a heat but doesn't it sound like a cheesy Sci-Fi Villain?
This one, however, is intended to improve your health, not end it like that mighty space emperor, and it looks to do so by combining the antibacterial properties of chilli and garlic with lemon juice's vitamin c and a good deal of fresh herbs.
It was the first of Chilli Pepper Pete's sauces and even pre-dates the formation of the company.
Its labelling reflects this, being the simplest of their range with little more than their logo, its name and a brief description of the product.
Yet, despite its simplicity, the bold red from which the name is cut out stands out well from the bright yellowy green background that represents the sauce's flavour. A sharp, green taste with a fair bit of citrus, if its description is to be believed.
To find out if it lives up to its promises, I poured myself a spoonful.
Half liquid, half paste, this sauce doesn't seem to have stayed together too well but a good stir will sort that out nicely.
I can smell the citrus and herbs right away, with the cumin coming through just a little less powerfully than the strong coriander but it's a little less noticeable still in the taste, as the garlic content really makes itself known. This is very strong flavoured product.
Interestingly, though, the leafy herbs seem to have enough green, grassy flavour between them to transform the citrus elements from the lemon they actually are into something tasting rather more of lime. Which certainly works for this sauce.
And as for the chillies themselves, it uses the green thai sort, matching the colour of the other ingredients. They don't to the flavour of this sauce, though, being rather overpowered by everything else, but they do give it a nice, respectable
on the tongue that lingers as it dies away.
It's a pleasant medium burn that remains for long enough to be good and warming should you need it but this zingy sauce, or “zauce” as the company have dubbed it, is definitely more about its flavour. A strong flavour that apparently hails from the Arab country of Yemen.
That would technically make it Asian-styled but the taste of this product strikes me as much more reminiscent of north African cuisine, with its garlic and cumin providing a powerful backnote to its otherwise rather fresh flavour.
It has all the lime and coriander you'd expect from a jalapeño sauce but the jalapeño itself isn't there and that backnote gives it a very different feel overall.
It's not bad in the least but the sheer strength of its flavour takes a little getting used to. I would not use Pete's Zhoug as a pour on sauce but, thinned down a bit, it would make an excellent sauce for fish and maybe for chicken.
I also feel like it would be quite at home in a good few Moroccan and Tunisian dishes, as part of a unique pesto or maybe, just maybe, with Indian food. It does, after all, seem uniquely suited to pairing with lentils and chickpeas.
And, as for it being good for you, I wouldn't purchase artisan chilli sauce just for the health benefits myself but its ingredients sure do look like the thing to fight off a cold. When all blocked up, I could see myself eating this straight, if only to get some flavour back into my life.
Assuming I still have any left by that point.