Slice Of Life
By Eileen Goltz
When I was in cooking school many years ago, I learned to value the power of the “sauce.” I was taught that there are five “mother” sauces. These five specific sauces are the basis of pretty much any sauce-covered dish in French cooking since cooking legend Auguste Escoffier simplified and modified them back in the 19th century.
They are, in no particular order, béchamel, veloute, Espagnole, (a.k.a. Spanish), Hollandaise, and tomato. These are all tasty sauces and easy to make once you get the hang of whisking and pouring and regulating the temperature. I still use them as the kickoff point in many of my recipes.
After a couple of decades of relying on these same old basic recipes, I realized I needed to lighten them up and actually recreate them in an upside-down way. I was using other, less conventional sauces in place of the tried-and-true ones. I present to you sauce recipes that go with whatever you want and are super easy to make. I’ve paired some of the sauces with fish or chicken and even pasta but feel free to mix and match to your taste buds’ pleasure.
A sauce should neither overwhelm nor fade into the background. It should enhance, showcase, and be so good you want to use your fingers to help get every single drop off the plate.
Whitefish With Lemon Caper Sauce
Dairy or Pareve
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 whitefish fillets, 6 to 8 oz. each
salt and pepper, to taste
2 shallots, minced, or 1 Tbsp. onion, minced
1 tsp. minced garlic
⅔ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (only use fresh)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (only use fresh)
2 tsp. capers, drained and lightly rinsed, pat dry on paper towels
zest of 1 lemon
In a skillet, melt the butter and add the oil. Season the fish with salt and pepper and then cook the fish 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the fish to a plate and cover with foil. Do not clean the skillet.
Cook the shallots and garlic in the skillet, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice, whisk to combine, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, capers, and lemon zest. Mix gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the warm sauce over the fish and serve immediately.
Modified from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking
1½ cups cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (any kind), cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
Oil (for frying)
1½ cups water
½ cup orange juice
⅓ cup rice vinegar
2½ Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest
½ tsp. fresh ginger, minced
½ tsp. minced garlic, minced
½ cup diced red bell pepper
3 green onions, sliced thin
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup water
Cooked rice (optional)
Sliced green onions (optional)
Toasted almond slices (optional)
In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. In another bowl beat the eggs. Place the panko crumbs in another bowl. Dip the chicken pieces first in the egg, then coat with the cornstarch mixture. Dip it in the eggs again and finally coat them with the panko. Set them on a cookie sheet. When done, pour the oil into a deep pan and heat it (you can use a deep fryer). Fry in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) and place them on paper towels to drain.
In a large saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups water, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Whisk to combine and cook for a few minutes but don’t boil. Add the brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic, and red pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with the water and mix to form a paste. Slowly whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce, cooking and whisking while it thickens. Place the cooked chicken pieces in a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the chicken, toss to combine, and serve over rice or noodles. Can be garnished with sliced green onions and almond slices.
This sauce works well with salmon as well. Modified from yummly.com
Pasta With Garlic Sauce
¼ cup butter
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup minced garlic
⅓ cup parsley
¼ cup chopped basil
1 lb. cooked pasta, drained but not rinsed, kept warm
Grated parmesan cheese to taste (I like lots)
Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic and slowly cook just until the garlic is soft but not browned. Add the parsley and basil and cook for 2 minutes (stir constantly). Do not overcook; the parsley and basil should still be bright green. Place the pasta in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over the top. Mix to combine and top with parmesan.
This sauce also works well over fish. My file source unknown.
Meat or Pareve
Makes approximately 3 cups of sauce
4 Tbsp. margarine
½ to ¾ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. flour
1½ Tbsp. tomato puree
2 cups white wine
1 quart beef broth or vegetable broth
4 Tbsp. additional margarine
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
salt and fresh ground black pepper—to taste
In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of margarine; add mushrooms and sauté 3 to 5 minutes. Add the green onions and sauté for another 3 minutes. Remove them from the pan but don’t clean the pan. Add the flour to the liquid in the pan and cook, whisking for 1 to 2 minutes until the flour starts to brown. Add the tomato puree, white wine, and beef broth, whisk to combine and cook at a simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Put the mushroom mixture back into the sauce and add the remaining margarine, parsley, tarragon, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Submitted by a reader, source unknown. Closely resembles discontinued McCormick Brand’s Hunter Sauce.
© Eileen Goltz
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago, kosherscoop.com, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, www.ou.org. She also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim).