SAUCES - Introduction

Wikipedia definition:

Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world. A sauce is liquid or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauces need a liquid component, but some sauces (e.g. pico de gallo, salsa or chutney) may contain very little liquid.

Many sauces in this web site are recognizably variations on French cuisine recipes, but very few are made by the French book. A few are from other regional traditions and I probably have invented or rediscovered a few of my own too. Dessert sauces are particularly under-represented. I rarely make desserts.


For an interesting list of sauces from many countries, see Wikipedia by type or country.
For this website, I made a different one.

French Cuisine

My opinion about the classic French cuisine sauces?

Needlessly complicated, invented by people who had way too much staff, time and resources, mostly unrealistic for regular use in average home-cooking for lack of both time and ingredients.

Enough ranting. Revenons à nos moutons like the French say. Back to the issues at hand.  

I don't underestimate the importance of sauces in French cuisine. Yes, many classic French sauces are delicious (as well as overly rich,) but a lot of them—especially some derived sauces—are imo not suitable for day-to-day home cooking. The need for a dedicated saucier in large hotels and restaurants clearly shows how much time goes into these French sauces.

That having been said, I prepare béchamel sauce with some variations quite regularly. That one is simple and delicious.

la cocina Mexicana

The Mexican kitchen is very different from the French.
Sauces are even more important in the Mexican tradition and everyday campesino life.

According to Chef Frank Johnson, Mexican dishes are all about sauces and salsas:
Any time you’re at a traditional Mexican meal, you’ll see many different condiments and several kinds of salsa on the table. Everything is fresh, and the idea is to use all those flavors together. There’s something great about a fresh, chunky pico de gallo and a zesty, smooth tomatillo sauce coming together in one bite of a taco.” 

I was able to experience that myself when I was living in Mexico in 2016. The Mexican kitchen is just as rich and diverse as French cuisine, but with a completely different—and imo a much healthier—foundation. Above all, let's not forget that peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and so many other vegetables are New World products that were domesticated and cultivated by the American indigenous people for thousands of years before colonization brought them to Europe. That is why I classify tomato sauces under the Mexican tradition instead of the French.

The only reason that French sauces get 2 chapters, while Mexican sauces only get one is because I grew up with the French tradition and am more familiar with it. I came to know the Mexican kitchen only as an adult when I lived in Mexico in 2006.

Mexican people could compile a classification that is just as impressive as the French one. So could just about every other regional kitchen around the world. French cuisine just had better PR historically. Thanks to the internet, that no longer is the near-monopoly it used to be.

In conclusion

These are recipes that I have prepared in my home kitchen. Most of them were not made 'according to the (French) book.'  As always, my response to criticism in this context is: I couldn't care less. As long as it tastes good, I'm OK with it.

I have only 2 classes for the French sauces: watery sauces that are starch-thickened and oily emulsions. As stated earlier, tomatoes belonged to the Mexican kitchen long before the French saw their first tomato.


recipe page links

Chapter 5.1. emulsions

vegetable oils vs. animal fats
Every sauce based on one oil or fat (e.g. butter) can be made with any other oil/fat.
I'm not saying it will look the same or taste as good, only that it will be different.

temporary emulsions

no-egg emulsions

Eggs are not the only emulsifiers in nature.

cream sauces

  1. cream sauces - intro
  2. cream
  3. à l'Ostendaise
  4. Alfredo sauce
    1. fettuccini Alfredo
    2. penne rigate Alfredo
    3. Alfredo sauce with mushrooms & zucchinis
  5. archiduc sauce = mushroom cream sauce based on beef drippings
  6. chives cream sauce
  7. garlic cream sauce
  8. mustard cream sauce
  9. pepper cream sauce
  10. peppercorn cream sauce
  11. walnut cream sauce

mushroom sauces, mushroom cream sauces

garlic emulsions

honey emulsions

mustard emulsions

egg-based emulsions

Chapter 5.2. starch-thickened Sauces

white roux / béchamel & derived sauces

recipes with béchamel or derived sauces

Chapter 5.3. Mexican Sauces

raw vegetable / fruit sauces

  1. guacamole = crushed avocado
  2. spicy guacamole
  3. guacamole salsa = avocado, tomatillos
  4. red salsa guacamole = avocado, red salsa
  5. guacamole with grapes, cucumber
  6. mango guacamole
  7. mango guacamole salsa
  8. pico de gallo / salsa fresca = fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, hot peppers
  9. mango salsa
  10. cucumber salsa
  11. salsa cruda
  12. ceviche = lime juice marinade

nuts & seeds

  1. peanut sauce (pollo encacahuatado)
  2. peanut & fruit mole aka nutti-frutti sauce

pepper sauces

mole sauces = peppers, nuts, herbs

Chapter 5.4. sweet / sour Sauces

sweet sauces

sour sauces

  1. vinegar
  2. balsamic vinegar
  3. vinegar sauce
  4. tallow / lard vinegar sauce
  5. lemon / lime juice
  6. ceviche
  7. mojo = garlic, vinegar

sweet & sour sauces

Chapter 5.5. other sauces

meat sauces

milk-based sauces

seafood sauces

vegetable sauces

cheese sauces

hot sauces

other sauces