Fine Food Sauces Fast

Fine Food Sauces Fast

A grilled chop, stir-fried chicken, poached fish or a scoop of ice-cream become, with very little extra trouble, something rather grand once they have a sauce to cheer them up. We’re not talking about that family of sauces that takes an age to prepare; demi-glace, hollandaise, sabayon and many others all hold an important place in classical cooking, but they’re strictly for no-hurry days. The kind of sauces we’re thinking about can be put together from your store cupboard ingredients plus the occasional exotic item that is easily obtained from any good delicatessen or supermarket, so many of which now carry excellent ranges of imported and locally produced Asian and Middle Eastern foodstuffs.


Sauces have come a long way since the days when they were used to disguise a multitude of sins. For centuries the world over, sauces or savoury relishes made up for what the shortcomings of transit and storage had done to meat, fish and other highly perishable items. Today, refrigeration and rapid transport have taken care of those problems, and sauces have become a way to enhance food without masking its natural flavour, and most importantly in these health-conscious times, to make it more nutritious.


A food processor or blender comes into its own where today’s simple sauces are concerned, making light work of what was once a laborious task.  If you have neither, it’s a good idea to buy a moulilegume, a sieve with varying-sized discs through which food can be pureed to the required consistency. They are inexpensive and hard-wearing.


A couple of the recipes featured require chicken stock;  this can be made from a stock cube, but if you do have some spare time one evening or during a weekend, it’s worth taking the trouble to make a batch of the real thing, freezing it in small quantities for use in soups and sauces when time is definitely not on your side. See the recipe for home-made chicken stock after the Garlic Ginger Sauce.


Similarly, there’s nothing quite like home-made mayonnaise. The easy recipe following the Creamy Curry Sauce is delicious and will keep for about 10 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


All the recipes given here are very versatile and the suggestions given for their use are just a guide. No doubt you’ll find they solve your cooking problems on many occasions.
If sauces are something you’ve always relegated to the too-hard basket, think again. Kay Francis has devised some simple yet stunning recipes that tum the ordinary into a special treat. And they’ll team with an array of entrees, main courses and desserts .


Serving suggestion: This sauce and the Yoghurt Sauce served with stir-fried prawns, calamari and baby octopus that were all marinated for 2-3 hours in a glass or ceramic dish in lime juice and olive oil before cooking.


  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 3 green shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 can anchovy fillets, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon canned green peppercorns, drained
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Discard any yellow leaves and root ends from the watercress.
  2. Wash and chop roughly.
  3. Place watercress, shallots and dill in a food processor and chop finely.
  4. Add anchovies, garlic, capers, peppercorns and lemon juice and process until smooth.
  5. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream.
  6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  7. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Beer Batter


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups beer


  1. Mix all ingredients to a smooth consistency.
  2. Dip small fish pieces in batter and deep-fry them in peanut oil until puffed and golden.
  3. Serve immediately.


Serving suggestion: This sauce would be good served with kebabs that were cut from 1kg round steak and marinated overnight in a ceramic or glass dish in 213 cup white wine vinegar.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated green ginger
  • 4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 6 green shallots, sliced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (from a cube, or home-made)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano Paprika
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley; finely chopped


  1. Place the oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic, ginger and carrots for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the shallots and cook a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, stock, oregano and paprika and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Place in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Add parsley and season to taste.
  6. Serve hot with meat dishes.
  7. Serving suggestion: The photograph shows this sauce used with kebabs that were cut from 1kg round steak and marinated overnight in a ceramic or glass dish in 213 cup white wine vinegar, ~

Here are some handy items to keep in your home:


Almonds: Raw, flaked

Anchovies: Canned, flat

Apricot conserve: For glazing fruits  and desserts

Artichokes: Canned hearts and bottoms

Asparagus: Canned, whole green spears

Bean sprouts:  Canned

Bouillon, beef: Canned

Bran: Unprocessed

Capers: Refrigerate after opening

Cashews: Raw, unsalted

Caviar: Refrigerate after opening

Chestnut puree: Canned, unsweetened

Chillies: Bottled whole; sauce

Chocolate: Dark cooking; white


Condensed milk: Canned, unsweetened

Corn: Canned, whole baby spears

Crab meat: Canned

Dried fruits: Apples, apricots, peaches, plums, raisins, sultanas

Evaporated milk

Flours: White, plain and self-raising;  tobolemeal; plain and self-raising

Gelatine: Powdered and leaf

Gherkins: Refrigerate after opening

Glace fruits: Apricots, pineapple, ginger

Honey: Clear or creamed

Mushrooms: Canned, small button; dried

Mustards: Dijon, English, French, lemon Mustard seeds and mustard powder

Oils: Grapeseed, olive, peanut, safflower,  sesame, walnut

Olives: Bottled, black and green.  Refrigerate after opening

Oyster sauce: Bottled

Pasta: A selection of dried and frozen

Peanut butter

Peppercorns: Green, white and black

Pinenuts: Replace regularly


Potatoes: Canned

Prawns: Canned

Redcurrant jelly: For glazing, bottled

Rice: Brown, long grain; white, long  grain; wild, for special occasions

Salmon: Canned

Salt: Rock, celery

Sesame seeds: Unhulled

Soups: Canned asparagus, oyster, chicken,  consomme

Soy sauce: Bottled

Stock cubes: Chicken, beef, onion, bacon

Sugar: Caster, soft brown, raw, icing

Sunflower seeds: For decoration

Tabasco: Bottled

Tahina: Store in fridge after opening

Tomatoes, canned, and tomato paste

Treacle and golden syrup

Tuna: Canned

Vinegars: Malt, white wine, red wine, cider; Balsamic, raspberry

Walnuts: Halves and pieces

Wheatgerm: For coating and baking



Celery: Store in fridge

Chives: Store in a sealed container  in fridge

Garlic: Keep at room temperature

Lemons and limes

Lettuce: Wash and drain, store in plastic bag in fridge

Mushrooms: Store in porous wrapping in fridge. Use up quickly

Onions: Store at room temperature in well-ventilated position

Parsley: Store in a sealed container in fridge

Potatoes: Store in well-ventilated dark position

Shallots: Green and brown. Store in fridge

Tomatoes: Store at room temperature

Zucchini: Store in fridge



Bacon: Rewrap into packs of 4 slices

Berry fruits: A variety

Bread and rolls: An assortment

Butter: Unsalted


Pizza bases: Sold in packets of 3

Salmon: Smoked

Sheet pastry: Puff, short and fillo

Spinach: Chopped

Stocks: Beef, chicken, fish



Butter: Salted, unsalted, ghee

Cheeses: Parmesan, grated cheddar,  ricotta, brie or camembert. Leave at room temperature before serving

Cream: Thickened

Eggs: Always keep a few at room  temperature for baking Mayonnaise

Sour cream

Yoghurt: Natural


Keep an assortment of small quantities (flavor  fades with time) of dried herbs and spices. Collect these with the weekly shop and your range will soon broaden. Basil, bayleaves, cinnamon, chilli powder, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, tarragon, thyme, turmeric and whole fenugreek are just a few to start with. Grow your own favourites such as parsley, mint, chives, basil, dill and coriander.



This is often the secret ingredient that transforms the dull into the delicious. Brandy, dry sherry, dry white wine, red wine, Grand Marnier, Kirsch, Kahlua or Tia Maria, Marsala and rum are useful .

About the author: Frank Caye is a food expert and writer on Restaurants of Sydney – find his recommended restaurants in The City Web Guide Australia

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