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Sauces to accompany fish

I am planning to eat much more fish (less meat) this year :

Any tips/recipes of five-star sauces to go with fish?

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  1. In March 2009 Rick Moonen's book, "Fish Without a Doubt: was the Cookbook of the Month. Most of his recipes had wonderful sauces, flavored butters, and other accompaniments. Here's the Sauce reporting thread where you'll find many paraphrased recipes from which you'll be able to create your own sauces, etc. You'll find remoulades, savory butters, tartar sauces, gremolatas, all wonderful with fish.

    Here's the main reporting link thread:

    I made several very tasty sauces but I included them with my report of seafood dishes I cooked. We love seafood and cook it just about twice a week.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I also love the Moonen book. There are a lot ot terrific sauces in there, most of them pretty simple. (One of my favorites was the wasabi butter sauce over salmon that had a hoisin glaze, but the butter sauce can be used alone for a lighter white fish.) Fish also doesn't need much marinating time, so if you're looking for a more prep-ahead dinner, you can do a simple marinade while you prep a side, then just roast/grill/saute the fish. No sauce needed.

      1. re: herring

        Thank You - That sounds marvelous!

    2. My husband is a Japanese fishmonger so we are fortunate to eat a lot of fish. Of course we prefer sashimi whenever possible, that is hard to do outside of Japan.

      Two simple and easy sauces we like include:

      butter, lemon and fresh herbs
      teriyaki (great for fatty fish) of soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake

      We also like to slightly cure the fish in salt and simply grill. Then serve with lemon.

      Also, cooking fish with vegetables in aluminum foil is quick and easy. Or grilling fish and putting it over salads. Also, if you are a rice eater, grill a nice piece of salmon, then put into the rice cooker before steaming the rice. Then stir the salmon into the rice.

      Finally, lots of soups, including miso soup or creamy chowders.

      We definitely feel better when eating seafood than meat.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Yukari

        <"grill a nice piece of salmon, then put into the rice cooker before steaming the rice. Then stir the salmon into the rice.">

        Many thanks for that Yukari! Sounds absolutely delicious. We belong to a community sustainable fishery and therefore eat fish regularly. I've actually made seafood the ways you've described. Other methods to use seafood are chowders, soups and salads.

        1. re: Gio

          Here are simple instructions and photos of the salmon steamed on rice.


        2. re: Yukari

          "Also, cooking fish with vegetables in aluminum foil is quick and easy."

          I've cooked tilapia this way twice lately based on a recipe in Cooks Illustrated.
          matchstick dice carrot + bok choy or zucchini
          tilapia fillet
          compound butter with lemon zest & garlic
          6 or 8 shrimp
          TBSP vermouth
          tightly seal in foil packet and bake at 450F for 15 minutes

          1. re: AreBe

            here's a photo from 01/01/2010

          1. re: Yukari


            The Hokkaido Chowder seems like the perfect dish to help keep me warm in the cold Minnesota winters. Besides a butter and flour roux and adding milk, anything else I should know/add to the recipe besides salmon, potatoes and carrots?

            1. re: BigSal


              I grew up in Monticello, MN. Yes, this is perfect for Minnesota winters.

              If you are used to making Japanese curry, it is a similar process, except that I put the salmon in at the last minute, unlike meat going in right away.

              Cook potatoes, carrots, and onions in a chicken stock. If you have time, saute them in butter first. Then add the butter and flour roux. Finally, the milk and salmon.

              This is nice with wild rice and mushrooms on the side.

          2. Not sure if you're looking for sauces only, or just other ideas for fish, but if it's the latter, a little compound butter (I make ahead and store in the freezer) can also go a long way towards dressing up a simple roasted or broiled piece of fish. You can also think about crusts ... one of my favorite meals is halibut steaks covered in pesto and panko, but you can also do a thin potato crust on salmon with or without a mustard dill sauce or something along those lines.

            1. I use it sparingly because of the saltiness, but I find Mr. Yoshida's Original Marinade and Cooking Sauce very useful. It is teriyaki-like but includes wine and is a bit thicker so it readily lends itself to brushing onto fish and other proteins. I haven't tried their other varieties.

              1. We rarely stray from lemon/butter, or parsley, or teriyaki sauces.

                All simple sauces which don't detract from the flavour of the fish.

                And, for smoked haddock, a lightly poached egg is all the sauce you need.

                1. Here are several of my favorite easy and quick sauces to serve over seared/sauteed firm-fleshed fish, like snapper, cod, haddock, etc.

                  Chile lime butter
                  1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
                  1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
                  1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
                  2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
                  1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red), including seeds
                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                  Stir all together in a bowl, serve a dollop on top of seared fish fillet.

                  Citrus Bagna Cauda
                  3 tablespoons unsalted butter
                  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                  4 anchovy fillets, minced
                  1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
                  2 tablespoons orange juice
                  2 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
                  1 teaspoon lemon zest
                  1 teaspoon orange zest
                  Cook the butter and oil in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, just until the butter melts. Add the minced anchovies and stir until they dissolve, which will take about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt. Drizzle sauce around and over sauteed fish fillet.

                  Quick Sauce for Snapper Veracruz-style
                  1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
                  2 cloves garlic, minced
                  1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
                  1/2 to 3/4 can Rotel tomatoes with Habaneros, drained
                  Juice from one fresh lime
                  1/2 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano

                  Heat a couple tablespoons or so of olive oil in a large skillet, and fry seasoned snapper fillets until golden on each side, remove to a plate and keep warm while making the sauce.

                  Add more oil to pan if needed and saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add tomatoes, lime juice and oregano, and cook until flavors blend, about ten minutes. (Note: at this step you could substitute for the canned tomatoes three fresh chopped tomatoes that have been peeled and seeded, and fresh chopped chiles or jalapeno, if you have more time.) Reduce heat to low and place the fillets on top of the sauce. Spoon some sauce over each fillet, cover the pan, and heat together for about 10 minutes. A sprinkle of cilantro once the fillets are plated is nice, but not necessary.

                  Finally, here's a sauce best on grilled salmon, but I imagine it would be fine on sole, flounder, or any other firm fleshed fish.

                  Basil CreamSauce:
                  20 fresh basil leaves
                  1/3 cup dry white wine
                  2 cloves garlic
                  1 cup heavy cream
                  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
                  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                  Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

                  Combine the basil, wine and garlic in a blender and process to a smooth puree. Transfer the puree to a small, heavy saucepan and stir in the cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until reduced by half, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in the lemon juice and butter. When the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm, covered. Spoon over grilled salmon.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    Veracruz sauce for pan fish and shrimp is better still with capers, sliced green olives, and a few golden raisins.

                    1. re: huckfinn

                      Yes, I leave out the capers and olives - we don't care for either. I wasn't aware that raisins are a good addition, do you think they'll enhance the dish even if I make it without the capers and olives?

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        I think a few raisins add a pleasant dimension to huachinango, boquinette, and shrimp. In my experience, about 30% of veracruz sauces in Mexico include a few. I sometimes include fresh ginger, which is not typical.

                      2. re: huckfinn

                        oh yes, I forgot and your post reminded me. Anything fish included with the picatta sauce.

                    2. My favorite's a simple lemon butter sauce (white wine, shallots, lemon juice, butter whisked in).

                      1. I love a simple raw herb paste spread over roasted salmon or other rich and flavorful fish. Just chop most of a head of cilantro and a bit of garlic and pound 'em both to a paste with mortar-and-pestle, seasoning with good salt and thinning with enough oil and fresh lemon juice to create a spreadable aromatic paste that is fresh and pungent. Not only tasty, but the pink salmon and bright green paste look beautiful together.

                        1. Sicilian orange and pistachio sauce is marvelous on fish. I searched here for "Sicilian AND fish AND orange AND pistachio". It didn't appear, unfortunately, but it might turn up in a wider search.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: Mistral

                              That's the one! It's GREAT. Also, I just remembered that JoeH started a thread a few weeks ago about a fennel-tomato sauce for fish that he found in the Washington Post that is very good too.

                          1. I got this one from a class Hugh Carpenter did specifically on fish. Of all the things he did this was the most memorable to me. Of course, it's as good as the tomatoes you can find so I only make it in the summer. I like garden grown black tomatoes such as Black from Tula. You'd get a different flavor altogether with something else like a Kellogg's Breakfast.

                            Roasted Tomato Creole Sauce
                            Serving Size: 4

                            • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
                            • 1/2 cup whipping cream
                            • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
                            • 2 tablespoon hot sauce such as sririacha
                            • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
                            • 1 teaspoon sugar
                            • 2 tablespoon oregano or basil leaves
                            • 1 tablespoon thyme, just the tender tips
                            • 1 tablespoon butter
                            • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

                            Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the cut surfaces of the tomatoes. This will aid in caramelization and add to the flavor. Roast them over a very hot grill until the skins are dark brown. Remove from heat; coarsely chop and allow juice and seeds to drain away.

                            Place chopped tomato in a bowl with remaining ingredients except for the butter and garlic. This much can be done up to 8 hours in advance of final preparation.

                            For final prep, place sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter and garlic. Sauté briefly, then add the tomato mixture and bring to a low boil to reduce.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rainey

                              I like spicy foods, but are you that is two TABLEspoons of sriracha?

                              1. re: AreBe

                                No, it's 2 teaspoons and thanks for pointing out the error I have to fix in my DB!

                            2. In the mini food processor, I throw a clove or 2 of garlic, about 1/2 bunch cilantro, red pepper flakes, maybe 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar and splash of oil. Not sure about the proportions as I just wing it. Anyway, it is good and tangy and low cal.

                              1. When tomatoes are in season, this Green Gazpacho Sauce from Bon Appétit is amazing.

                                Other yummy and healthy fish preparations:

                                Chef LaLa 's Fish Tacos With Yogurt Sauce

                                Cod With Caesar Crust

                                Cooking Light's Grilled Pastrami-Style Salmon

                                Tuna With Tomato-Basil Sauce - Tonno Alla Livornese

                                Easy Skillet Asian Rainbow Trout

                                NYT's Roasted Salmon With Wasabi Cream

                                1. A really nice sauce for a white, firm-fleshed fish such as sea bass is tomato, pine nut and mint. The process is really just an embellished version of making a plain old tomato sauce. Just cook onions in EVOO until translucent, add chopped, seeded tomatoes (note: in this recipe the seeding IS actually worth doing), add chopped mint, cook until thickened, stir in toasted pine nuts.

                                  This is great hot or cold. And it can also be stirred into rice as it cooks to make a tasty pilaf. Which is also good hot or cold, even on its own...

                                  1. Wwe also were talking just this morning that we need to eat more fish. I love most fish, I have difficulty with my husband. Even some salmon preparations, he doesn't care for.
                                    I have the best luck with buerre blanc, or just plain fresh lemon juice. For some salmon and halibut I make a mustard cream sauce. And for scallops and shrimp, he loves the curry sauce I make. Another way since I have a cast iron grill/griddle I like to cook shrimp or scallops on that and then I make a salad with fresh greens and make a plum sauce dressing. I did make a sort of twist on the New Orleans fave, BBQ shrimp. I used more wine and not as much butter, and it was great.

                                    1. This is a great and inspiring thread! Enjoying all the ideas.

                                      One of my fav sauces for preparing fish is a salsa verde- so yummy. Capers, pickles, olives, a clove of garlic, dijon mustard, green herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint all chopped together and thinned with some evoo and red wine vinegar. Yum!

                                      My mom used to brush fish with some mayo and top with breadcrumbs and a squeeze of lemon- that is really yummy and one I have adapted with light herbed philly- which I got off the philly container!

                                      1. Thanks for all the great ideas. We're also trying to eat more fish (which I am only recently learning to like) and introduce the kids to it, so I bought some cod yesterday and the fish monger threw some of the store's own marinade in the bag with the fish. At dinnertime I just drained the fish and, well, I was looking for some bread crumbs but actually found a leftover package of, um, shake and bake. So I cut the fish in large chunks, coated it with that stuff and baked it. Everyone ate a ton.

                                        Served it with a quick tartarish sauce:
                                        a combination of low fat yogurt and mayo (more of the former than the latter for me):
                                        chopped pickle
                                        chopped capers
                                        little bit lemon juice
                                        fresh dill, tarragon, parsley and/or green onions
                                        spoonful of mustard
                                        Mix it up in a bowl, let sit for a few minutes, dip.

                                        Another thing I like are sole fillets rolled up, spread with tapenade on top and baked. You can roll some shrimp in the middle.