Friday, September 17, 2010

Flavor Profile: Sauces

Much of what we once knew about sauces has changed over the years. When we think sauce, many of us probably think of the classic French ones that are cooked, thickened, or contain some sort of binder like flour or tons of fat. Bechamel, hollandaise, mornay, veloute, bordelaise, chausseur..... But contemporary sauces are actually fresher tasting, healthier, more exotic, and often times easier to make than the classics, and so should not be overlooked as a way to deliver loads of flavor to the foods we prepare.

In previous posts, I covered a few. Salsas, for instance. In Spanish, salsa literally means sauce. Salsa variations abound. Instead of tomatoes, you could use fruit, such as pineapple, papaya, mangoes or peaches. Fruit salsas are particularly good on grilled fish, lending a little bit of an exotic twist to the food.

An oil-based green herb sauce, found in my Zucchini with Green Sauce post, is an excellent way to deliver flavor to bland vegetables.

Then there are those like chutneys, cooked vegetable and fruit sauces, yogurt sauces and chile pastes that can all be found in today's kitchens. Some store-bought sauces are bound to be staples in your kitchen. Take ketchup - though recipes for homemade ketchup are readily available, let's face it, most of us are not going to take the time to make it ourselves. But when it comes to others, like salsas and green sauce, I think that taking the time to make them ourselves is really worth it because of the payoff in terms of quality, freshness and especially flavor.

There are a million sauces I could highlight here. I made perhaps the best pan gravy ever on Sunday night when I roasted chicken. It was fantastic. Never better. But everyone knows how to make pan gravy, right? Vinaigrette - everyone has their favorite there, too. Pasta sauce - same. However, here's a sauce that perhaps not everyone makes and this is one I find completely inadequate no matter which store-bought brand I buy - Peanut Sauce. I've tried a few recipes but this one's my favorite and it's super easy. Great with chicken satay.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth, unsweetened
1 large garlic clove
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar (I use light brown sugar)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or more, to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup hot water

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, except the water, and puree until smooth. Gradually add the water until the desired consistency is achieved (don't go too thin!). Taste for salt and cayenne, adding more if necessary.

Makes about 1 cup.

Can also be used as a dip for fried tofu, or as a dressing for noodles. Keeps several weeks in the fridge. It will thicken in the refrigerator. Thin with hot water, stock or even coconut milk.

If you're interested in the best-ever marinade for the Chicken Satay that I serve with this Peanut Sauce, please email me and I'll send you the recipe. To die for.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Print Friendly