A sauce is a thickened liquid dressing for meat, poultry, fish, desserts and other food preparations. Sauces enhance the flavour and appearance of the food they accompany. They also add nutritional value.
A sauce may present contrast in flavour, colour and consistency. However, it should not over power the food it is served with. It should be prepared so that it forms a part of the food it accompanies.
A sauce adds the following qualities to foods:
– Appearance colour and shine
– Interest and appetite appeal.
Components of Sauce
Sauces are mainly made up of four kinds of ingredients:
2. Thickening Agent
3. Flavouring Agent
4. Seasoning Agent
A liquid ingredient provides the base or body of sauces. In most of the sauces, liquid or base is stock.
Milk : For Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)
White Stock : For Veloute Sauce
Brown Stock : For Espagnole Sauce (Brown Sauce)
Clarified Butter : For Hollandaise
A sauce should be thick enough to hold the food. Thickening is mostly given by starches. Thickening agents are the ingredients that can thicken (change the consistency) the flavoured liquids to convert them into soups, sauces, gravies, curries, puddings etc.
The main thickening agents are as follow:
1. Starch: Starch is the carbohydrate of plant found in food likecorn, rice, wheat, potatoes, etc.
Cereal Starch It requires 85-96*C to gelatinize for the maximum thickening. E.g. Rice, wheat, maize
Starch Root Starch It requires 65-71*C for maximum thickening. E.g. Tapioca, potatoes, arrowroot
Instant Starch It is a pre-cooked or pre-gelatinized starch, requires no further heating
2. Roux: It is a combination of equal quantity of fat and flour cooked together. Depending upo’n the degree of cooking, it can be classified in to three categories
Roux Blanc Equal quantity of butter and flour cooked together fo
(White roux) few minutes without colouring to a sandy texture. Uses Béchamel sauce, soups
Roux Roux Blond Equal quantity of butter and flour cooked for a
(Pale roux) little longer then white roux to a sandy texture. Uses Veloute sauce, soups
Roux Brun Equal quantity of butter and flour cooked
(Brown roux) together slowly to a light brown colour. Uses Espagnole sauce, soups
3. Beurre manie: Equal quantity of butter and flour kneaded to a smooth paste (Do not cook). Uses-Fish sauce. This flour-butter mixture is used to correct thin sauces at the last minute. After you whisk it into a sauce, let it cook for no more than a minute or two, since sauces thickened with flour pick up a starchy taste after they’ve cooked for a few minutes.
4. Egg Yolk and Cream Liaison: A liaison is a mixture of egg yolks and cream, used to enrich and lightly thicken a sauce. Egg yolks have the power to thicken a sauce slightly due to the coagulation of egg proteins when heated. Caution must be used when thickening with egg yolks because of the danger of curdling. This happens when the proteins coagulate too much and separate from the liquid. Pure egg yolks coagulate at about 60°C to 70°C. For this reason, they are beaten with heavy cream before use. This raises their curdling temperature to 82°C 85°C. Egg yolks have only slight thickening power. The liaison is used primarily to give richness of .?avor and smoothness of texture to a sauce and only secondarily to give a slight thickening. Also, because of the instability of the egg yolks, it is used only as a ?nishing technique.
5 Agar: It is a transparent gel obtained from seaweed. Uses- Salads, Sweet dishes.
6. Eggs: Used as thickening agent in Mayonnaise, Hollandaise, and Custard sauce.
7. Cullis: It is fruits or vegetables’ puree used in soups.
8 Coconut: Grated coconut and coconut milk is used as thickening agent in Indian gravies.
9. Tamarind: Tamarind pulp is used as thickening agent in lndian gravies.
10. Curd: Beaten up curd is used as thickening agent in Indian gravies.
11. Poppy Seeds, Chaar Magaz, Cashewnut Paste.
The liquid that is used as base for the sauce, contribute mainly for flavour, but additional flavouring ingredients enhance the quality of sauce. In some sauces lemon juice is added in the end to improve the flavour. Sherry and Madeira are frequently used as final flavouring. Red wine and white wine are used during cooking of sauce to give flavour.
A sauce must be checked carefully for seasonings before sewing. Remember that the last step in any recipe is checking the seasonings.
Salt and Pepper are commonly used as seasoning agents in most of the sauces.
Salt is the most important seasoning for sauces. This emphasizes the ?avours
that are already there by stimulating the taste buds.
Cayenne and white pepper are also important as they get evaporated by heat.
Mother Sauces or Basic Sauces
These are the main basic sauces, from which many other sauces derived. Just by adding other ingredients to these basic sauces, one can make a new sauce. A brief description of six mother sauces is as follows:
It is popularly known as White Sauce because of its colour. This is the only basic sauce, that does not use any non-vegetarian ingredient in it. The basic liquid in this sauce is milk and the thickening agent is white roux. It is a rich, creamy, smooth‘white sauce with a subtle onion flavor made by simmering an onion studded with whole cloves in milk and adding the infused milk (minus the onionito a white roux.
It is a rich, smooth, ivory colored sauce made by thickening chicken, veal or fish stock with roux.
Veloute takes its name from the adjectival form of the French word velour, meaning velvet. It is very light and silky sauce made from stock of fish, chicken, mutton or veal. Blond roux is the thickening agent in this sauce.
it is also known as Brown Sauce. It is one of the most popular sauces in continental cuisine. It is a full bodied sauce made by adding brown roux, pureed tomatoes and mirepoix to brown stock.
Tomato sauce is a basic sauce and the derivatives of this sauce are widely used in Italian cuisine. Traditionally it is made with roux but the texture of pureed tomato is sufficient to give the sauce a proper texture without using any thickening agent. It is sewed with pastas like spaghetti, tortellini, and also with meat, fish, eggs, etc. Tomato sauce adds colour to the dish.
It is a warm basic sauce. It is a smooth, buttery, pale yellow sauce made by whisking melted butter into a mixture of egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar. It is an emulsion of clarified butter and lemon juice or vinegar and the egg yolk is used to bind them. It is yellow in colour and is best go with hot fish preparations.
Mayonnaise is a smooth sauce made from oil and the yolk of eggs. It is an emulsion in Which the oil is dispersed in tiny droplets. Egg yolk contains lecithin which prevents the oil and water from separating out. Mustard is also a good emulsifier and is frequently added. Vinegar or lemon juice is added for flavour and because acidity is necessary for the emulsion to properly form. The oil used is normally odorless type such as refined oil.
Quality Standards for Sauces
To make a good quality sauce, one must have check on following points:
1. Appearance: The sauce should appear smooth with a silky shine.
2. Consistency: A smooth consistency without lumps is considered as good sauce. It should not be very thick but thick enough to coat the food.
3. Colour: Should be of good colour, e.g., shining white and not grey for béchamel sauce, rich brown for espagnole sauce.
4. Flavour: It should be distinct but not dominating. Should be Well balanced. The taste should not be starchy and should be properly seasond.
Uses of Sauces
Sauces have great importance in cookery. These are used for variety of purposes. Few of the uses are as under:
1. One of the main reasons to serve sauces with the food is to provide with moistness to remove dryness. Meat pieces are served with the sauce made from the liquid extracted from the same. Most of the roast items are served in a very dry condition and is very difficult to eat them like this, hence accompanying sauces play an important role by providing moistness to the food.
2. When the food is roasted or cooked, most of the liquid along with the nutrient comes out and unused. This loss of nutrients can be replaced by accompanying it with the sauce. While roasting a chicken, natural juices of chicken comes out and get collected in the roasting tray. These juices contain all the nutrition and flavour of the roast chicken that should be served with the dish.
3. An important use of sauce is to provide flavour to the dish. Matching the dish with accompanying sauce is important as it enhance the taste of dish. A roast duck is served with orange sauce. Roast beef is served with horseradish sauce and roast gravy. Roast mutton is served with onion sauce.
4. The sauces are used to enhance the texture of dish. A sauce adds texture to the food and improves the overall appearance of the food.