Other cultures, especially those that rely on grains and cereals, have given Americans many intriguing condiments. Bland by nature, grains and cereals benefit from a little va-va-va-voom.
Consider z'ug (sometimes spelled zhoug), a hot Yemeni herb condiment used to dress almost anything. Z'ug is pestolike in its start and its end, but nowhere near pesto in its middle. Pureed cilantro and flat-leaf parsley form its foundation; lots of garlic, chiles and cumin rev it up. A splash of olive oil moistens the mix to smooth it into an aromatic, lively sauce. Its proportions can vary according to your preference.
Z'ug is often available at Arabic markets in squat jars. When I have no z'ug on hand, I can always approximate its flavor by using the same ingredients in less-traditional proportions. That's what I did with this chicken salad, and its light, bright flavor seemed just right that night.
Yemeni-style chicken salad
Lemonade or limeade
Fresh seasonal fruit
Yemeni-Style Chicken Salad
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: about 15 minutes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 red serrano chiles, seeded, stemmed, minced
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see note)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the chicken breasts in a large skillet with water just to cover. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to simmer. Cook until chicken is opaque, firm to the touch and no longer pink inside, 8 minutes to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together mayonnaise and yogurt in a medium bowl. Add garlic, chiles, pine nuts, green onions, celery, carrot, cumin, cilantro and parsley; toss to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from skillet; set aside until cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes. Chop chicken coarsely; stir into mayonnaise mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 5 minutes.
Per serving: 530 calories; 32 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 136 milligrams cholesterol; 9 grams carbohydrate; 50 grams protein; 893 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber
- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper