Zhug is Jewish hot sauce. Yeah, savor that for a second. Jewish. Hot sauce.
It’s like ketchup in Tel Aviv, but here in LA, zhug is zilch, nada-ness, not even a twinkle in Roy Choi’s eye. It’s hotter than a Sandy Koufax four-seamer, and fresher than Natalie Portman’s face. It’s a fiery fusion of chili peppers and garlic, neutralized by parsley and cilantro, and seasoned with coriander, cumin, and cardamom. Its heat is addicting, and achieves a brink-of-orgasm effect in the mouth. Who wouldn’t want that? Apparently every hipster from here to Brooklyn, and all the newbie pseudo foodies in between. Philistines of all walks are squirting sriracha onto everything, from scrambled eggs to Brussel sprouts. Talk about gross misuse. If you put sriracha on anything but seafood, you’ve officially eaten the Kool-Aid. Sriracha’s hot tanginess is a hipster myth. If you close your eyes and pretend that you’ve never heard an Arctic Monkeys album, it tastes just like Chef Boyardee sauce with a few dashes of Tabasco. Zhug is the realest thing. It’s tastier and healthier than sriracha, but that’s not the real reason for tossing the cock sauce in favor of zhug. The real reasons are listed below.
- Anthony Bourdain has never heard of zhug. It’s never been prepared on No Reservations or Parts Unknown, not a single episode, which means none of your friends, fellow Yelpers, or adjunct faculty colleagues have tried it. Start eating it ASAP! Claim cultural proprietorship. FIRST! A deliciously obscure food item sours with every dish not ordered by you. Joe Kennedy Sr., patriarch to John, Bobby, and Teddy, pulled out of the stock market when shoeshines started giving him trading advice. As a result, he averted the Crash of 1929. Lesson being, when everyone’s onto something, that something officially sucks the big one. That’s Punk 101. These days, sales clerks at Foot Locker are dousing food court hot dogs with sriracha. For Chrissake, feral dogs in Los Feliz are hooked on it. Get out now, while you still have something over Anthony Bourdain.
- ISIL wins if you don’t eat zhug. Zhug was brought to Israel by Yemen Jews during the exodus from Arab lands. Before the exodus, Jews formed a sizable minority in Yemen. Now, there are only fifty Jews left in the entire country. Enough said.
- You can buy sriracha label tee shirts at Target.
- Zhug is low-tech and environmentally friendly. Zhug should only be made by mortar and pestle. The process emulsifies the ingredients for superior taste, and emits zero CO2. Do NOT use a food processor! Besides, any foodie worth their Oshima Island Blue salt knows that techie kitchen equipment is for tools. Real artisans cook with stone, steel, and wood. Junk the infrared thermometer. Scrap the blowtorch. Recycle the Cuisinart. Point being, sriracha is made in a blender. A fucking blender! What year is this, 1986? Are we “mixing” grasshopper cocktails? Are we “pulsing” a spinach dip that we’ll pour into a pumpernickel bread bowl? This isn’t the ‘80s. We are not Devo. We are men!
- Sriracha is now integrated in recipes at Applebee’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box, Subway, and of course, Taco Bell. There’s nothing punk about any of those places.