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Substitution for flour in cream sauce?

I'd like to make a gluten-free version of a fish casserole recipe. The recipe calls for making "4 1/2 cups of thin cream sauce, made with heavy cream, fish water, flour & butter" which is placed in a casserole with seafood and boiled rice, covered with a little grated cheese, and baked. Is there anything I could successfully substitute for the flour? If not, is there another way to go about it entirely? Thanks for your help.

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  1. Depending on the quantities involved in the cream sauce and what the final result in the casserole supposed to be, you might just drop the flour & the butter, and just use the cream and fish stock.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      This is what I would do. Undercook the rice slightly and let it thicken the sauce as it finishes cooking.

      1. How much flour are they asking for? Best bet might be to reduce the heavy cream by half to get the correct volume, ad slurry a little cornstarch with cold fish water and add it to the reduced cream. If the fish water (broth?) doesn't have salt, you could reduce both by a half, and then add a cornstarch slurry to get the thickness and then correct the salt. If it is a thin sauce, you will not need a lot of cornstarch.

        Of course, it would be more expensive. You could combine the liquids and just cornstarch the whole thing, but I'm not fond of actually tasting or detecting cornstarch in the finished product.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rudeboy

          It's an old recipe of my father's, and I have only what I quoted - no amounts. A cornstarch slurry may be the way to go. I am a little nervous about detecting it, but I guess if I go light...

          1. re: THewat

            Another possible thickener is potato starch (or potato flakes).

          1. re: kebyar

            Arrowroot would work, too. I usually only have cornstarch and tapioca flour available. I was thinking that, since it is a thin sauce, then one wouldn't taste it at all.

            I've done it in stages - just a bit, check after a few minutes, then add a bit more, etc. So not to overthicken.

          2. Yep, just thicken w/something that doesn't have gluten, such as rice flour or cornstarch. You can also thicken your cream sauce with egg yolks, which adds richness to the sauce, though I'm not sure at what point you might start to overwhelm the taste of the fish.

            1. potato starch is an alternative.

              1. You could also use chickpea flour.

                1. there are lots of thickeners out there - some I've experimented with, others I haven't explored yet.

                  For what you're describing I might go the route of finishing the rice in the cream which will absorb some of the cream and help thicken the sauce at the same time.

                  But you could do

                  arrow root (less after taste than cornstarch)
                  Potato starch
                  Guar Gum (use very little and thickens instantly)
                  Xantham Gum

                  Another blog I follow has been doing a series of posts on different thickeners for the past few weeks - if you're doing a lot of gluten free you might find it interesting and it may give you some ideas for other applications.