Yet another spice blend to add to my repertoire!
Z’hug or Z’hoog (as pronounced) is a traditional blend from Yemen. Traditionally, the blend is in the form of a wet marinade made from fresh and moist ingredients like parsley, garlic, cilantro and the local Marash pepper.
Amongst the cookbooks I own, one of my most prized ones is the New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou. It’s an amazing book where Chef/author Mourad Lahlou delves into traditional Moroccan cooking, basics and fundamentals but executed in a modern, contemporary style.
So there’s information about so many spices, ingredients, techniques from in and around the region; great for those who do not know much about Morocco or its cuisine. Yet the recipes and dishes outlined are global fare.
Though Z’hug is a wet blend as mentioned, Mourad has outlined a recipe in the book for a dry version which is often used in his restaurant. And that’s what I have used too, except that instead of Marash pepper, I used semi dried chillies. Even though I do stock the Marash pepper, it’s not an easy one to find for most people so I decided to use the chilli variety that is available locally and easily for all. But if you do have it, use it by all means.
There are plenty of ways to use Z’hug. It can be used as a dry rub for steaks or roast chicken. It can also be used to spice up casseroles, lentils or roast vegetables. Roast nuts spiced with Z’hug is also a great idea.
Z’hug and seafood would also be a delightful combination. And I wanted to make something that’s quick and simply to put together for a midweek meal or as a party starter. The spice blend can also be made in excess and stored; one that is great to have in the pantry always.
I decided to use prawns marinated with Z’hug and then pan grill it. Prawns do not require prolonged marination, so it’s a dish that comes together in no time at all. And with the holiday season upon us, this is a great dish to add to your party table.
Pan Grilled Prawns (with Z’hug)
- 600 gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled
- Z’hug blend
- Salt; to season
- Vegetable oil
- Lemon wedges; to serve
- 2 tsp semi dried chilli flakes
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp dried cilantro/coriander leaves
- 3 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground caraway
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp citric acid
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
To make Z’hug:
- Combine all the ingredients, grind if necessary and store in an airtight container.
To prepare the final dish:
- Clean and pat dry the prawns.
- In a non reactive bowl, marinate the prawns with Z’hug and season with salt. Mix well and keep for 15-30minutes.
- Brush enough oil and heat the grill pan to high. Pan grill the prawns in batches till done.
- Serve hot with lemon wedges.