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Sauces for Fish

I'm looking for some sauces to give some versatility to my fish. I use salmon and tilapia quite often. Any suggestions for a good sauce that isn't too time intensive?

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  1. Unless you are cooking farmed raised salmon, I would eschew any sauces and simply dress with some sea salt and cracked ground pepper, and perhaps a squeeze of lemon. Let the natural beauty of the salmon speak for itself.

    For the tilapia? Ketchup. It's hopeless.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      How about tartar sauce for the tilapia.

      Inspiration struck when I was having one of my most favorite foods in the world ... the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I can think of very few foods indeed that can rival a bit of lightly-salted sea bass cooked sous vide and served with its juices over jasmine rice. It's hard to improve on those natural flavors.

      2. I am very fond of teriyaki and other soy based sauces. Good soy sauce, a little brown sugar, a little lemon or rice vinegar, finely chopped garlic and ginger, brush over the fish a before and a few times during broiling. Course you can find about a zillion variations if you search.

        1. Melt some butter and add some chopped shallots along with some grated ginger. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, at a temperature low enough to prevent the butter from burning. Add a splash of wine that pairs well with your fish and reduce by half, strain. Drizzle the sauce over each serving when plating or puddle alongside, depending on your plating configuration.
          It's even pretty good on Tilapia.

          1. yogurt-based sauces are great for fish. you can flavor them with seasonal fresh herbs, citrus, garlic, cumin & smoked paprika, chives, pepper, curry, tahini...

            1. For salmon, combine the zest and juice of 1 lemon, shaved garlic (I use a truffle slicer to shave my garlic - nice and thin - no effort) add capers, chopped rosemary and a dollop of butter. Simmer until the butter melts and the garlic softens.

              1. I love fish, so I usually don't sauce...However last night I had some Lemon, butter, flat leaf parsley with lots of lump crab meat over fresh Gulf Red Snapper...Twas delicious!


                1. For salmon, I like to use ponzu with grated daikon as a dipping sauce.
                  Sesame oil also adds a ton of flavor.
                  For tilapia, how about a vera cruz or romesco sauce.
                  If you steam or poach you could also do a soy/ginger/scallion broth or sauce.

                  1. My go-to for mild white flesh fish is a Veracruz sauce, of which there are many interpretations. Sautee onion, garlic, and a poblano or jalapeno, fold in a couple mashed peeled roma tomatoes, capers, sliced green olives, and a few golden raisins. Goes well with shrimp, also.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      mmm, Veracruz is one of my favorites. don't forget the Mexican oregano!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        We've made Robert Irvine's Orange Buerre Blanc sauce, and poured it over salmon (I believe the original recipe is Mahi Mahi with Orange Buerre Blanc Sauce, can be found on the Food Network site).
                        It's absolutely scrumptious.

                    2. Summertime, I like a mango salsa over any grilled fish. Winter, it's butter and lemon with sauteed fish.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                        great idea-summertime or anytime
                        loving that idea
                        I usually pair the mango salsa with cold lobster in the summer, but with some heat, I think it would be great in the winter with halibut

                      2. I really like the flavor of lime--both zest and juice--so I often swap out lemon for it in tartar sauce and other sauces for fish.

                        1. Though I often prefer great fish unadorned, a quick salsa verde can be nice. Or simply browned butter or bearnaise. A compound butter could not be simpler!

                          1. I like a portuguese fisherman stew type sauce - either poured onto the fish or cook the fish in it.
                            saute onion/celery/pepper, add paprika, bay leaf
                            deglaze with white wine
                            add canned clams and broth

                            Theres another oriental-like, chili-type sauce I like. Again, pour on fish or cook the fish in it
                            sweat 1/2C rough chopped ginger with 1/2C rough chop garlic and 1/2C fine chop onion
                            Add chicken broth and handful of crushed chili flakes
                            stir in a can of tomato paste
                            mix well, simmer

                            1. Salmon responds to almost any sauce that might float your boat. Favorites here are teriyaki, hollaindaise, & bearnaise.

                              For the latter two, there's no need to make them from scratch at first. Supermarkets carry both Knorr & McCormick sauce packets for both, & both are nice. Just tweak the Hollandaise with some fresh lemon juice &/or the Bearnaise with some fresh chopped tarragon. I always keep both on hand for impromptu sauces, & never feel like I'm cheating - lol!

                              1. I am in the same boat as you as my new year's resoulution is to cook more seafood. So far, I have tried a few recipes this year. The following two sauce recipes are ridiculously easy and passed my taste test. Hopefully, they will pass yours too! (Please let me know how you find them)

                                Spicy Garlic Sauce (It's spicy so you may want to adjust red pepper accordingly)

                                2 tablespoons olive oil
                                2 garlic cloves (crushed with the side of a knife)
                                1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
                                1 teaspoon steak seasoning (Montreal Seasoning by McCormick is recommended)
                                1 teaspoon lemon, zest of
                                2 teaspoons lemon juice

                                Honey Ginger Sauce (I had this on salmon, marinate for 15-30 mins, then baste while cooking)

                                1 teaspoon ground ginger
                                1 teaspoon garlic powder
                                1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
                                1/3 cup orange juice
                                1/4 cup honey

                                1. I love a balsamic reduction. Just simmer balsamic vinegar until reduced. You can refrigerate it and use later. I add a little butter before I put it on the fish.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Pesto is nice on salmon, you can thin with olive oil.

                                    I also like a simple mustard sauce -- pan juices, some dijon mustard, a bit of butter or good olive oil, some herb of your choice.

                                    Another thing I like with salmon is to saute some shallot or onion, add some chopped black olives and chopped prunes, then the pan juices from the fish and a bit of butter. This is good if you like the sweet/salty combo but maybe want to get away from the Asian sauces. (Tho' I also love the Asian sauces.)

                                    1. I'm having broiled salmon with dill sauce on a bed of linguini for dinner.

                                      1. wild salmon pairs nicely with mushrooms, either sauteed in butter or as a scoop of duxelles over the top. duxelles freezes beautifully, so make a batch and portion it out for later uses. romesco and pesto also freeze well for uses like this.

                                        my quickest sauce is asian sambal mixed with mayo and a bit of sesame oil.

                                        sorry, but i won't go near tilapia.

                                        1. How about chipotles in adobo, with smoked paprika, a bit of cumin, and butter (if you're not counting calories), with or without garlic?

                                          1. I do a play on a Vietnamese style fish dipping sauce (nuoc mam), and its always a crowd pleaser when I prepare whole grilled or fried fish.

                                            1- Fresh young coconut
                                            1- Tbs fish sauce
                                            1- Tbs sugar
                                            1- Whole fresno pepper finely chopped (de seeded and membrane removed)
                                            3- whole cloves garlic smashed and finely chopped
                                            3- stalks of green onion chopped
                                            Optional - Pickled carrots shredded or julianed (little less then 1/4 cup)

                                            Heat coconut water in a small pan and combine sugar until dissolved. Pour into serving bowl and let cool. Combine rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours for best results. Taste and adjust amount of sugar or fish sauce if necessary.