Five Sauces You Can Make At Home!

Imagine a world without sauces! How bland would eggs benedict be without a covering of creamy, unctuous hollandaise sauce? How boring to tuck into slices of roast pork without a dab of apple sauce or roast lamb without a dollop of mint sauce. And how dull would potato salad be without a slathering of mayonnaise or hot chips without a splurt of tomato sauce?

As we know, most sauces are not normally consumed by themselves, instead they add taste, colour, flavour and visual appeal to many dishes. Given their love of the condiment, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that sauce is a French word taken from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted. The oldest recorded European sauce is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans, while doubanjiang, a Chinese soybean paste is mentioned in Rites of Zhou in the 3rd century BC.

Sauces may be used for sweet or savoury dishes; they may be prepared and served cold, like mayonnaise, prepared cold but served lukewarm like pesto, cooked and served warm like bechamel or cooked and served cold like apple sauce. Today, most sauces can be bought pre-made and packaged, such as Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, soy sauce or tomato sauce, but there’s nothing like a homemade version to really lift a dish and take it to the next level.

Besides, who doesn’t like impressing their guests with the words: “… and I made the sauce from scratch!”

Here then are five easy-to-make, but oh-so-delicious recipes courtesy of those saucy chefs at Capsicum Culinary Studio. (Did you know that a chef who specialises in making sauces is called a saucier?)

Marvellous Mayonnaise

The secret to making a good mayonnaise is ensuring all ingredients are at room temperature before you start.

1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
250ml canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional

Crack open an egg and place in the small bowl of a food processor and beat for 20 seconds. Add the mustard, vinegar, and salt and beat for another 20 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, turn the food processor on and slowly add the oil in tiny drops until about a quarter of the oil has been added; this is important for proper emulsification. When the mixture starts to thicken and emulsify, and with the processor still running, add the rest of the oil in a very thin stream. Once done, switch off the processor and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl then process for an extra 10 seconds. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, lemon juice or extra vinegar to your liking. If the mayo seems too thin, slowly stream in more oil with the processor running until it thickens.

Best Béarnaise Sauce
Pour over steaks or burgers, asparagus or salmon. The sauce’s richness improves virtually everything it touches.

¼ cup white-wine vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ tablespoon tarragon leaves, chopped
2 egg yolks
170g unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt
Splash of lemon juice, optional

Place the vinegar, shallot, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of the tarragon leaves into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until there are only a few tablespoons of liquid left (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve, then let it cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, pour into a blender and add the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt and blend for 5 seconds or until combined. With the blender running on medium-high, slowly stream the melted butter into the mixture until it’s emulsified. Pour into a small bowl or jug, stir in the finely chopped tarragon, and serve.

Brilliant Bechamel
Without bechamel there would be no lasagne, mac and cheese, fish pie or cauliflower cheese, just to name a few! 

50g butter
¼ cup plain flour
2½ cups milk

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two or until the mixture bubbles. Gradually stir in the milk. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Once you have made your bechamel, you can start adding to it to suit your purpose. When gruyere and parmesan are added it becomes a mornay sauce, used with tuna, oysters and eggs. When cheddar is added it is known as cheese sauce and is the one we’re most likely to use poured over cauliflower or broccoli.

The Perfect Pesto
While this herby Italian-style sauce is great stirred through pasta it’s just as good when dribbled over fish or chicken

50g pine nuts
80g basil
50g parmesan
150ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves

Heat a small frying pan over a low heat. Cook the pine nuts until golden, shaking occasionally. Put into a food processor with the basil, parmesan, olive oil and garlic cloves. Whizz until smooth and season to taste.

While this recipe is for the classic pesto using the three key ingredients of basil, parmesan and pine nuts, you can substitute them for a variety of similar components such as parsley, coriander, rocket, broccoli, kale, spinach and peas instead of the basil; walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts for the pine nuts; and pecorino, manchego, aged gouda, or aged cheddar to replace the parmesan.

Heavenly Hollandaise
A classic creamy sauce to drizzle over poached eggs or vegetables.

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup unsalted butter or ghee, or more for a thinner consistency, melted and hot

Place the butter in a microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave for about 1 minute until hot. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and cayenne pepper into a blender and blend for 5 seconds or until combined. With the blender running on medium high, slowly stream in the hot butter into the mixture until it’s emulsified. Pour the hollandaise sauce into a small bowl and serve while warm.

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