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Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

4 Servings

25 minutes

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Zhoug, a spicy pesto-like condiment with a base of cilantro and often parsley, is said to have Yemeni origins, but it is popular throughout the Levant and Middle East. Its zip and pungency comes from fresh chilies, a small handful of spices and fresh garlic. Olive oil supplies fruity richness. We found zhoug just the thing to add bold, bracing flavor to mild-tasting fillets of white fish. Readily available cod works well in this recipe, but snapper and tilapia also are good. Whichever you choose, for quick, even cooking, look for fillets no thicker than about 1 inch. Be sure to dry the fish well by patting it with paper towels, especially if it was previously frozen; removing excess moisture helps ensure they brown well in the pan.




Don’t leave the cilantro wet after rinsing. Be sure to dry it well so there’s no residual water to cause sogginess during processing. Also, don’t move the fish around once it’s in the skillet, and don’t worry if it releases a little a liquid during cooking. The skinless fillets are delicate, so minimal maneuvering is best to keep them intact, as well as for best browning.

25 minutes


  • 4

    cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 large bunch), roughly chopped

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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stephanie e.
March 7, 2023
We loved this!
The sauce is so quick to make but packs a lot of flavor. We used fresh cod which worked beautifully! Lots of yummy sounds from the table. I would use the sauce on many things- shrimp, vegetables, eggs and in a sandwich. Another in our rotation. Thank you!
Michael Y.
August 21, 2022
Very tasty
Really enjoyed this. I have had zhoug at fast casual places but this recipe is way better. I went with one serrano so I could taste the rest of the sauce. Serve this with some bread and a yemeni salad. Amazing dinner.
Katherine H.
July 5, 2022
Easy and delicious
I’ve been finding nice, sweet cod this spring and summer, so I’ve made this a couple of times. Tons of cilantro in the garden helps! I didn’t have serrano peppers one time and just used red pepper flakes. Still great!
Christine D.

This is delicious! The sauce is amazing, so easy and would pair well with so many things. Make it!