Still Saucy…and Cheap

Cheaper from your kitchen.

Back by popular demand, after You can be saucy…for cheap. and More Cheap Sauces, let’s get out the recipe cards (or press the print button) for a half dozen sauces which spice up the dish without breaking the bank. One is even a secret recipe.

Up for some authentic, exotic sauces? Let’s cruise the Mediterranean and the Polynesian Islands for some recipes to kick dinner up a notch…or seven. We may as well toss in a couple classic American sauces while we are out traveling.

Classic Mediterranean Fish Sauce

Pan-fried fish is not strictly a European food. All coastal countries have a native twist to the campfire favorite. This recipe is not one you are likely to try in the wilderness. White fishes work best with this sauce. Choose fresh water or salt water fish and fillet.

1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 TBS tiny capers, well drained
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBS fresh lemon juice

The bits in the pan give the sauce more depth...Try it in a cast iron skillet.

Pan fry fish fillets of your choice. Remove fillets from the pan to a platter to keep warm.  Over medium heat, add butter and olive oil to skillet and scrape pan to dislodge any fish bits stick in the skillet. Cook until butter melts, but not separates. Add capers, anchovies, parsley and lemon juice. Cook for one minute, stirring gently. Pour sauce over fish fillets.

Do not be afraid of the anchovies. They do not overpower the dish, but add a layer of flavor which makes the sauce perfect for the sweetness of a white fish. A tablespoon of anchovy paste can be substituted for anchovy fillets, in a pinch. Be sure to stir well to incorporate the anchovy paste.

Polynesian Sauce

Stimulating three parts of your tongue at once may send your taste buds into overdrive, but there is no denying this versatile sauce is all aces. Based on indigenous ingredients, a classic Polynesian sauce can top most any dish.

Stimulate the sweet.

1/3 C soy sauce
1/2 C pineapple juice
5 oz (one small can) crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Simply stir all four ingredients in a large measuring cup. Add the sauce to stir fry vegetables and/or meat. The sweet of the sauce counterpoints spicy meats well. Serve it over sliced, roasted chicken or pork. Poached or pan-seared fish is a hit under this sauce.

Quick Greek Style Pasta Sauce

Pick your favorite shape.

If you do not have time for the tried and true six-hour Italian version of pasta sauce, why not try the Greek interpretation?

6 oz (medium jar) artichoke hearts
1/4 C olive oil
1 C feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 lb cooked pasta, drained

Drain artichoke hearts, reserving liquor. Chop them coarsely. Toss pasta with chopped artichoke hearts, reserved liquor from jar and remaining ingredients.

If you choose hearts which are not marinaded, add two cloves crushed or pressed garlic, two tablespoons finely shredded fresh parsley or cilantro and one tablespoon shredded fresh basil.

Easy Cocktail Sauces

Cheaters’ cocktail sauce is equal parts ketchup and horseradish sauce. If it makes your eyes water, add some extra ketchup to douse the fire on your tongue.

Horseradish, unprepared.

For the cocktail sauce you are likely to find in your favorite seafood restaurant, try this easy sauce.

2/3 C bottled chili sauce
1 TBS prepared horseradish
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce

Stir together all ingredients and chill for 30 minutes before serving with any seafood: baked, grilled, roasted, pan-fried, deep-fried, boiled or raw.

For the sauce served with Red’s seafood dishes, try this recipe:

2 oz horseradish
1/2 TBS Cajun spice
1/2 C bottled chili sauce
2 tsp Tabasco  pepper sauce
2 tsp sweet pepper sauce
Juice of one lemon

Beat spice mix into horseradish. Stir in next four ingredients. Chill for 30 minutes before serving. If ketchup is substituted for chili sauce, add more pepper sauce to taste.

Red hand mixes pepper sauces. She tends to add a few extra dashes of sauce to the mix, tasting often. Red’s personal choice for pepper sauces are:

Stir Fry Sweet ‘n’ Sour Sauce

This sauce is designed as an all-over sauce for your stir fry dishes, whether they are predominantly meat or vegetables. This is not the sauce for deep fried foods or dip.

1 tsp cornstarch
1 TBS cool water
1/3 C rice vinegar
3 TBS ketchup
3 TBS dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 TBS rice wine

Dissolve cornstarch in water at the bottom of a 4-cup bowl. Stir in next six ingredients.  Add sauce to wok or skillet for the last one minute of cook time. It takes about one minute to thicken.

Rice Wine

Definitely worth adding.

If you do not have rice vinegar on hand, white vinegar will do, but the sauce will be a little tangier. The wine can be foregone if you do not have any on hand, but better to substitute a dry sherry or another white wine. If you choose not to cook with wine, consider substituting a tablespoon of sweet citrus juice instead of skipping it.

You have to pinkie swear not to tell.

Ultra Secret Burger Sauce

One of the popular hamburger joints in America made a revolution of its secret sauce. You can make it at home for cheap. What is the wonder recipe?

1 TBS ketchup
1 TBS mayonnaise
1 tsp spicy brown mustard

Personally, the sauce is better with salad dressing…but do not tell the burger place!


Which one of these recipes would you like to try first? What is your favorite sauce of all time?


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. I promise not to tell! (looks around) I do have to try that wonderful polynesian sauce though! :9

    • It is amazing! Even people who turn their noses up at anchovies in any other setting, eat this one up and lick their fingers.

      Remember, you pinkie swore 😉

  2. How about a list for Fondue sauces?

  3. Pinky-sworn or not I love the horseradish based seafood sauces the best. . The hotter the better. Another very simple panic but good seafood sauce for fish is ordinary old green hot-dog relish mixed with mayonnaise and if you like, add hot pepper sauce to taste. Simple, good and fast. Good stuff, Red!

    • Cheater’s tartar sauce is an easy one. My suggestion: Add a couple drops of garlic oil or shakes of garlic powder and a shake of onion powder. Both will add spice but not hot and cut the egginess of the mayo.

      I am not a mayo fan, but love salad dressing. I sub as often as possible for the egg intolerant in my social circles. There is still egg solids, but much less than mayo.

      If you like the cocktail sauce hot, cut the chili sauce by a quarter, use habanero instead of just red pepper sauce and add a dash of wasabi to it (powder or prepared). Mmmmm.

  4. My favorite is alfredo sauce. Greatest sauce ever.
    Glad that you didn’t use ketchup in the cocktail sauce.

    Oh, and capers are the devils…whatever the hell they are.

    • Ketchup is just so nasty. Americans and their lack of palate irritate me. Yes, I am an American by birth, but I believe I was smuggled here.

      I know you know, but most people do not know capers are actually flower buds 🙂 And they taste really good! Mmm…especially in omelets.

      • Yeah, we’ll just have to agree that your out of mind as far as the capers.
        Not a fan at all.
        It’s true I’ve only tried them a couple of times, but didn’t like them at all.

        • Most ppl do not like the brine. If you drain them, they will absorb nearly any flavor. I like pair them with ginger.

          I do not like them as a salad topping, but when paired with something with a powerful flavor (like in this recipe, the anchovy), they are little flavor bursts throughout the dish 😉

          • I actually should like capers. I enjoy most varieties of pickle (not so much the bread and butter ones), and love olives.
            But I just don’t seem to get capers…

          • Then, you are an enigma. B&B are very sweet, which may explain your aversion. Capers have a similar receptivity to olives without having quite as pungent a flavor of their own (it is more of a peppery taste). May just need to give them one more spin cycle with something you prefer, like I do with ginger. Next time, try them with a bit of pickled ginger. Let them soak a couple hours (or overnight) in the ginger brine before you use them.

      • Yes, capers are delicious and pretty spicy nasturtium green seed pods (aren’t they seed pods?) you can pickle, (preserve) or use as is, add salt and pepper, put in salads, or whatever–best soaked, but the peppery taste on their own is also good –even in gravy! You know ‘peppercorn’ gravy for steaks? Try capers. If you don’t like it you can always use them to start a food fight with Mate. They launch perfectly from a teaspoon… “:)

        • And a straw if you know how 😉 No, they are not seeds. They are flower buds. But I love them, even though I despise peppercorns of all colors.

  5. I like the burger sauce but add a touch of brown sugar

  6. I just LOVE s-e-c-r-e-t-s. Promise not to tell ANYone. Love all the sauces. Can’t wait to start trying. Thanks.

  7. I always enjoy a saucy posting Red 🙂 😉
    Have a very nice rest of evening and keep
    experimenting, even with those sauces 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • I think my favorite part of any recipe is turning my nose up at one ingredient and substituting something entirely different, which is, of course, much better!

      Hope you are having a frightful night!

      • Yes there is nothing finer than creating a
        dish on the whim… and guess what? All my
        nights are frightening 🙂 😉 lol

        Be good now Red, I can smell the coffee and
        so it is time to enjoy some me thinks, I might
        even have a bit of that coffee too 🙂 lol

        Androgoth XXx

  8. Is there a vegetarian version of the Greek sauce? I don’t think I can eat artichoke’s hearts!

  9. Though it’s not really a sauce, the liquid I cook my super duper pop-pop’s out of sight cauliflower makes some great ‘gravy’.

    Olive oil, garlic, Spike (mixture of herbs & spices), salt, pepper, teriyaki sauce and water.

    But my favorite sauce of all has to be single-malt scotch. LOL


    • “Yum. And you are incorrigible,” she says as she slides the snifter of Courvoissier a little further to the left.


  10. Red, have to try the Mediterranean sauce! Already use your ‘special sauce’ on burgers. Fave cocktail sauce from Miss R :
    sour cream mixed with hot horseradish. Simple but an accompaniment normally found only with Russian dishes.
    Great with veggies, wings and chips. Of course peroggini and other Russian dishes I adore making.
    Owe you a call my dear. Some of us sleep three hours longer at times 😉
    You’re a doll and thank you for the new sauces to try!

    • Not complaining about the extra sleep for certain! I adore sour cream and horseradish. I love the blend for more than seafood. It makes a great veggie dip and burger topper. 😉


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