A good sauce can take a dish from bland to spectacular, and with just a few tweaks you can create an endless variety of dishes. Here are some more sauces to add to your arsenal.
Earlier this year we highlighted five great sauces to learn how to make. Most of those were traditional French sauces, considered to be the "mother" sauces from which all other sauces are derived (the omitted one, Hollandaise, is below). Still, with so many variations of sauces from around the world to enhance the foods we cook, we thought it worth pointing out even more common and versatile sauces to jazz up your meals.
Last time we mentioned a garlic white sauce, toum, which is a mayo-like sauce, but the "mother" of white sauces is Hollandaise. A lot usually goes into it, but as Lifehacker reader Collin Christopher pointed out, there's an easier Julia Child's method:
Add your yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a blender, then blend it until it's all incorporated. Melt your butter until the foaming stops, and, while the butter is still very hot, slowly stream it into the running blender. The heat from the butter "cooks" the eggs gently in the same way a double boiler would. You might want to have a little more butter on hand because this can come out a bit thicker than traditional hollandaise. After the butter is done, throw in a pinch of dill, tarragon, cayenne, or whatever you like.
Easy hollandaise without ending up with Popeye arms. :)
Hollandaise sauce, most commonly used in eggs benedict or paired with asparagus, can be turned into other sauces, such as Bearnaise sauce for steak, which Child demonstrates above (using vinegar instead of lemon juice and with added herbs).
We're not talking conventional bottled barbecue sauce as found adjacent to tomato sauce in your local supermarket here. There are lots of barbecue sauce variations arond, from sweet (brown sugar or honey) BBQ sauce to spicier versions. Here are a few to get you started:
- Basic tomato-based barbecue sauce in 15 minutes from Serious Eats, plus 11 others
- Korean BBQ marinade, which uses Asian pear juice to tenderise meat and add sweetness.
- Pinoy (Filipino) pork barbecue recipe using 7-Up (Seriously. I remember my mum marinating skewers this way)
A Soy-Based Asian Sauce
Many Asian cuisines use soy sauce as the base for their "master sauces" With it, you can make Chinese sweet and sour sauce, Japanese teriyaki sauce, Korean kalbi, and other sauces, dips, and broths — each with distinctive flavours based on the additional ingredients you select. There are endless possibilities, but knowing at least one of these sauces can add more variety to your meats, vegetables and grains.
- Chinese brown sauce from the Art of Cooking (good for fried rice or stir fries)
- Sweet and Sour sauce recipe on Food.com. It only takes 10 minutes (secret ingredient: pineapple juice)
- Teriyaki sauce on Serious Eats: sweet and salty, with just four ingredients
Curry describes a wide variety of dishes from around the world. The word technically means "sauce", though curry can be simply vegetable and/or meat dishes cooked with spices — with or without the gravy. Coconut milk, yoghurt and/or chilli paste are often used to make the base of the curry sauce, while curry spices may include cumin, turmeric, mustard seed, and others, depending on the region and dish. It's beyond the scope of this article to cover ever kind of curry dishes; sufice to say there's lots of territory to explore!
- For Indian curry, Vah Reh Vah has a nice collection of recipes
- The BBC shows us how to make Thai curry and curry paste
- Serious Eats offers this spicy Jamaican curry recipe for chicken
Who said sauces need to be white, red or brown? When you have fresh herbs or other greens available, throw them together into a sauce. Argentinean chimichurri sauce is delightful spooned over steak or other meats, pesto sauce pairs well with pasta and other grains, and salsa verde adds zip to tacos and other Mexican foods.
- Hilah Cooking shows us how to make chimichurri (basically, coriander and/or parsley plus garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar) — and then take that basic recipe to make a French persillade or Italian gremolata sauce. Very versatile!
- David Lebvovitz's perfect pesto is a classic take, using basil, olive oil, pine nuts, salt, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, all mashed together with a mortar and pestle. As Bobby Flay demonstrates in this video, though, pesto doesn't have to be made with basil.
- This salsa verde recipe on Simply Recipes offers a few different ways to cook the tomatillos (and then mix them with classic Mexican ingredients such as cordiander, lime juice and capsicum)
Sure, you can buy bottled hot sauces, but making your own from fresh ingredients and exactly to your tastes is more satisfying. Hot sauces figure prominently in a variety of cuisines.
- Mexican red chilli sauce, for example, is used in enchiladas and tamales. To make it, boil chillies for a few minutes, then blend with garlic, salt, cloves, and peppercorns.
- Sriracha is easy to make yourself using just a handful of ingredients as well. And hot sauce lovers put it on everything
- Harissa, ubiquitous in North Africa and Morocco, is more of a chilli paste that serves as a base for curries and stews, but can also be used as a condiment. Saveur's recipe uses a variety of ingredients (two types of chilies and many spices), while this one from AllRecipes is a little simpler and includes mint.
Again, these are all just scratching the surface of the kinds of sauces you can make, but perfecting your own version of each category you like can open up a world of additional flavours. Bon appetit!