Ah, sauce! The secret weapon of cooks everywhere, with the power to make or break even the tastiest of meals. They’ve been used since cooking began to add flavour, moisture and visual appeal to a dish.
Just think how integral they are to famous pairings: Eggs Benedict and hollandaise sauce, lasagne and bechamel, pasta and tomato sauce, lamb with mint sauce, and peri-peri chicken. The list goes on, with many versions of sauces unique to countries and regions around the world.
Having these 5 basic sauces up your sleeve will take most meals a very long way. Each of them is filled with flavour on their own, but like any recipe, you’re able to add or switch ingredients to make them unique to your kitchen.
- 15 g butter
- 15 g flour
- 300 ml milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat
- Add the flour and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes
- When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat
- Add the milk slowly while continuing to stir until all the milk has been incorporated
- Return the saucepan to the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken and just starts to bubble
- Season with salt and pepper
Bechamel Sauce Microwave version
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 500 ml milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place butter in a 1 litre glass ovenproof jug or bowl
- Microwave on ‘melt’ or at full power for 30 seconds – or if butter is cold, in 30 second bursts until melted
- Stir in the flour and microwave on high for 1 minute until it bubbles
- Add the milk gradually, stirring continuously until all the milk has been added
- Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring after each minute to avoid lumps, until thick
- If mixture looks too thick, add a little more milk
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- 2 egg yolks
- 125 g melted butter clarified
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tsp lightly crushed white peppercorns
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste cracked black pepper is best
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Put the vinegar, water, and crushed peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to the boil
- Lower the heat and simmer for a minute or until reduced by half
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool
- Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl, then add the egg yolks to the liquid and whisk together
- Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (with the base of the bowl not touching the water) and whisk the mixture for 5 to 6 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick, creamy and ribbon-like in texture
- Slowly add the clarified butter in a slow stream and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and glossy
- Add the lemon juice and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves
- 1 tbsp boiling water
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp malt vinegar
- Crush the mint leaves and sugar in a mortar and pestle (or chop very finely, or process just until chopped)
- Add the boiling water and leave to draw for 30 minutes
- Add the vinegar and mix to combine
- Set aside until needed
Fresh Tomato Sauce
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil olive, sunflower, or canola
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 6 large basil leaves chopped
- 3 tbsp water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Brown sugar to taste if needed to reduce acidity
- In a saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onions until soft
- Add the garlic and basil, and cook for 30 seconds
- Add the chopped tomatoes and water, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened
Mozambique Peri Peri Sauce
- 2 red onions peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup African bird’s eye chillies stems removed
- 2 red bell peppers seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes skins removed and roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- juice and zest of 3 lemons
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar (or Sherry Vinegar)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- Combine all the ingredient in the bowl of a food processor/blender and mix until all the ingredients are finely chopped and the mixture is quite saucy.
- Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning.
- After 20 minutes, check the seasoning and adjust.
- The sauce should be of well-balanced flavour with a good kick of spice and acidity level from the lemon and vinegar.
- Pour into sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
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