Adding Flavor to Food: Sauces

Finding a place in everything from meat, poultry and fish dishes to salads and sweets, sauces today have succeeded in preserving their important role in cuisines around the world.

There is no doubt that the complements to a good meal lie in the details. As crucial as combining the right ingredients is getting fresh ingredients and using them in the right proportions. It is here that sauces come into play as key elements that add taste and consistency in both the preparation and the serving of food. In professional kitchens sauces are often used even prior to cooking to add flavor to the ingredients used. A number of different sauces, for example, are heavily used to tenderize red meat. Marinating in a sauce is a pre-cooking method used with poultry and seafood as well. Octopus, calamari and inkfish, whose flesh is quite tough compared with that of fish, are always marinated in one or another different sauces before cooking.

Marinating red meat in a tenderizing sauce of milk and onions, or chicken in a mixture of tomato sauce and spices before grilling, are methods commonly employed in everyday cooking. In the cuisines of the Far East meanwhile sauces are used as the main component of many dishes to which hundreds of different sauces add their characteristic hot, sweet and sour tastes. Among them, soy sauce is one of the most widely used taste-enhancers in the world, more or less replacing salt in the Far Eastern cuisines. European cuisine makes wide use of sauces as well. In addition to salad dressings, the chocolate and cream-based sauces used in desserts are among the characteristic features of European and Mediterranean cooking. And the many dipping sauces offered on the side when food is served are popular around the world today. Traditional Ottoman cuisine displays a richness of fine sauces as well. The meat broth obtained by boiling meat bones was a favorite enhancer of taste and consistency in a whole range of dishes from rice pilaff to stewed pulses. Besides the basic spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper and cumin, fruits like apple and quince and nuts like almonds and walnuts as well as honey were intensively used in Ottoman sauces.

The use of sauces in traditional Ottoman Turkish cuisine is observed more frequently in stews than in sweets. And ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and yoghurt, which are for the most part natural and unprocessed and whose predominant flavor is not lost in the sauce, continue to play an important role in our daily cuisine.

Cream sauce with lemon and gum mastic

Ingredients:
1 lemon
100 g butter
300 g cream
1 drop of gum mastic (Pistachia lentiscus), well pounded
white pepper
salt
finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preparation:
This cream is made with meat, fish, chicken or vegetable broth depending on the dish with which it is going to be served. Bring the cream to a boil with the pounded gum mastic, then reduce the heat. Add lemon juice to the desired degree of tartness and the grated rind of a lemon for color and aroma. Divide the well-chilled butter into pieces and add slowly to the cream over low heat. Add the salt and white pepper, mix well and remove from the heat.

Profiteroles with tahina

Ingredients for the choux pastry:
500 g water, 400 g flour, 250 g butter, 14 eggs, a pinch of salt

Preparation:
Bring the water to a boil in a pan. Add the butter, salt and flour and cook, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Remove from the fire when the dough begins to shrink from the sides of the pan. Remove to a tray or marble surface and let cool. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and beat well. Add slowly to the cooling dough, mixing well each time. Place the choux paste in a pastry bag and pipe onto a baking sheet in walnut-size balls. Bake at 140 ˚C for 35 minutes.

Ingredients for the profiteroles cream filling:
500 g milk, 100 g flour, 150 g granulated sugar, 2 eggs
a pinch of vanilla

Preparation:
Place all the ingredients in a pan and mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent clumping, and let cool. When the cream is cool, slice off the top of the previously baked puffs with a sharp knife, fill with the cream and reassemble.

Ingredients for the profiteroles cream filling:
500 g milk, 100 g flour, 150 g granulated sugar, 2 eggs
a pinch of vanilla

Preparation:
Place all the ingredients in a pan and mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent clumping, and let cool. When the cream is cool, slice off the top of the previously baked puffs with a sharp knife, fill with the cream and reassemble.

Tarator sauce

Ingredients:
150 g walnut meats,
2 slices of stale bread
12 cloves of garlic
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt
1 tbsp tahina
2 tsp lemon juice

Preparation:
Pound the walnut meats in a mortar, add the garlic and continue pounding. Squeeze the water from the previously moistened bread slices, add to the mortar and continue pounding. Add the vinegar and then the olive oil drop by drop until it is absorbed. Add salt and tahina to taste. Add the 2 tsp of lemon juice, mix well, and serve.