I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about a few of the upcoming Friday Fotos we have in the hopper (such as Pacific Rim chicken stir fry and chipotle agave broiled fish). While the two recipes differ greatly, they do share one thing in common – a sauce or marinade that brings the dish together.
When I think back over the different sauce and marinade recipes I’ve made from scratch since going gluten-free in January 2007, the most successful recipes have all adhered – to greater and less degrees – to my “formula.” It rarely lets me down. If you want to try making your own sauces and marinades, keep these guidelines in mind:
Whether you’re making a stir fry sauce or a marinade for fish or meat, it should have a balance of salty, sweet, spicy and acid.
Sources of saltiness might include salt (duh) or tamari wheat-free soy sauce.
Sources of sweetness might include brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, molasses or fruit juices or purees (such as orange or pineapple).
Sources of spiciness might include chipotle powder, jalapeno peppers, chili sauce, Thai curry paste, red pepper flakes, or even black pepper.
Sources of acid might include vinegars (rice vinegar, distilled white vinegar) or fruit juices (orange, pineapple).
You might have all four elements represented, or maybe just two or three. Even if all four elements are present, sometimes you’ll downplay one and emphasize another (such as less spice to make a sweeter sauce, or less sweet to make a spicier sauce with more bite). It’s great for making “sweet plus heat” recipes, as well as recipes where the sugars caramelize during grilling or broiling, but the sauce still retains a “kick” from saltiness or spiciness.
If you use this “formula” as a starting point, you’ll be that much more likely to create successful recipes for sauces and marinades right out of the gate. Here are a few examples of how we’ve implemented our own formula:
An upcoming Friday Foto recipe for Pacific Rim chicken stir fry uses pureed fresh pineapple (sweet, acid) and tamari wheat-free soy sauce (salt) in the sauce.
Another upcoming Friday Foto recipe for chipotle agave broiled fish uses chipotle powder (spice) and black pepper (spice), salt (salt), and agave nectar (sweet) in a marinade.
One version of an orange sauce I make for Asian dishes uses orange juice (sweet, acid), rice vinegar (acid), brown sugar (sweet), tamari wheat-free soy sauce (salt), and ground chili paste (spicy).
My barbeque sauce recipe uses ketchup (sweet, acid), brown sugar (sweet), honey (sweet), molasses (sweet), distilled white vinegar (acid), Dijon mustard (spice), ground black pepper (spice), and Worcestershire sauce (sweet, acid, and a little spice).
I even use this formula to make my (current) favorite version of a pizza sauce, which uses tomatoes (sweet, acid), salt (salt), and red pepper flakes (spicy), among other ingredients.
That’s it. A four-part formula that’s easily adapted to your needs and available ingredients, to make deliciously successful sauces and marinades. So get saucy!