Yemenite Zhug (Yemenite Hot Sauce)

This chile pepper gets its name from its origin. In Spanish, serrano is an adjective meaning “from the mountains” which is where it originated-in the mountains of Hildalgo, Mexico. The serrano is normally about twice as hot as Jalapeno (about 10,000 to 15,000 Scoville units). It is the second most popular chile pepper in Mexico. This chile is used mostly for salsas but can also be used in soups, sauces, chili or stews. Try these as a hotter substitute for Jalapeno.

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1 lb serrano chile peppers
5 whole heads of garlic, peeled
1 bunch fresh cilantro, well rinsed
1 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes or to taste
1/2 tsp powdered cumin
1 salt to taste
olive oil to cover


Blend in a food processor. Makes about 1 pint.

Variation: Use habaneros (seeds and all) in place of serranos.

By Joan Nathan, “Jewish Cooking in America”