Chermoula | Sauced

Joshua Bousel

Chermoula is one of those sauces—once you taste it, you'll wonder where it's been your whole life. It's unfortunate that I had never heard of chermoula until recently, when I came across it while putting together a Moroccan-influenced barbecue and looking for a sauce to pair with chicken brochettes I planned on making.

Since chermoula can be found in many North African countries and has myriad regional variations, I couldn't find a definitive starting point to a recipe. So I approached it with my instincts on Moroccan flavors, then tinkered a bit, eventually coming up with a sauce that I really love.

It starts with cilantro, parsley, and garlic finely choped in a food processor. Then I added in few ubiquitous Moroccan spices like paprika, cumin, hot pepper, and saffron, giving it a slightly spicy, earthy quality that contrasts with the fresh herbs. Then its defining feature—preserved lemon juice, which imparts a strong and unique acidic flavor. A bit of olive oil is the finishing touch.

Chermoula is traditionally paired with grilled fish, but it also works well with the chicken I slathered it on, and I can imagine it'd be a great change of pace from the chimichurri I most commonly serve with beef. Now that I've discovered the versatility and great flavors of this sauce, it's sure to find many uses going forward.