cilantro sauce ‡

Whenever I used to buy cilantro, it would begin to turn brown and get yucky after just a few days, because I would take the trouble to gather the leaves and chop them up for use in recipes perhaps only a couple of times that week. However, now I transform it into an acidulated squeeze-bottle sauce that keeps almost indefinitely. You can use it almost anywhere that your recipe calls for cilantro and, because it is in this handy form, it makes an easy added flavoring to any number of other, perhaps more ordinary dishes. I find it particularly tasty on my breakfast eggs.

If the heat of the jalapeño chiles is not to your liking, merely leave out their seeds and placenta before adding them to the blender.

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 large jalapeño chiles, sliced, with seeds and all
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder, or ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp <salt>
  • 3 oz vinegar
  • 3 oz lemon juice
  • 1 tsp guar gum powder

Wash the cilantro thoroughly, shake out excess water, chop roughly, and put it into a blender jar. Add all other ingredients, except for the guar gum, and blend the mixture at high speed to liquify, about one minute. Add guar gum and continue to blend on high until the product is smooth and somewhat thickened.

Pour sauce into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate before use.

Chermoula Sauce ✠

During the TV Rerun Season, I find myself watching food competition reality shows or regional cuisine travelogues, as something I care about and haven’t seen before. One such show featured the cuisine of North Africa, and chermoula in particular. I jotted down a sketchy description of it, looked it up online, and hereby add its recipe to my collection.

Chermoula is a marinade and the foundation of a number of North African dishes, chiefly fish preparations, but also chicken and shellfish; it is also used as a tasty topping or condiment for vegetables. Recipes over the region have slightly different methods of preparation, but the end results seem to be much the same. The recipe below is based on a Moroccan formula adjusted to better fit my dietary guidelines. Please feel free to readjust it to your own preferences.

The preparation is quick and easy. As given, it is more of a relish than a sauce, so leave it thick if it is being used as a stuffing or relish, or, if meant to be used as a marinade, add a bit of water or olive oil to thin it out.

The recipe calls for saffron, which is expensive. If you choose to use a saffron powder product, be sure that the powder lists saffron as its first ingredient.

  • 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed and puréed
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne chile
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ½ tsp lemon zest

Wash the cilantro well and remove the long stems; use only the leaves and small stems. Wrap in paper or cloth toweling and squeeze, press, and/or wring out as much liquid as possible. Chop finely (perhaps in a food processor).

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. The chermoula is now ready for use. Use it to stuff or marinade fish or chicken, or to top vegetables like cauliflower or squash.

Makes about a cup of relish.