Phil's International Flair

Welcome to the September issue of Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! This month's theme is sauces. Sauces are one of the things that give each country its particular flair with food. In India you will find curry very prevalent. In China, a variety of gravies, typically thickened with starch, are used to compliment the flavor of foods. The Vietnamese often use fish sauce spiced with hot chili to fire the palate. Japanese devised teriyaki sauce to compliment the flavor of meat, fish and chicken. The French have a diverse variety of sauces that often make the meal!

This month I have selected some of my favorite sauces. It would be overwhelming to put recipes representative of each country. However, some basic sauces are presented here that will fill the needs of most meals. Some of these you can use to marinate meat or fowl, and others can be served with meat or vegetables to make your meal something very special and appetizing. My favorite barbeque sauces and an excellent Marinara sauce can be found in the Seasoned Cooking archives.

Each sauce has endless variations, and some suggestions are given on how to make a particular sauce in several different ways. Spices are the key to sauces having variety, so don't be afraid to experiment a little. Try the recipes as they are and then adjust the seasonings to suit your palate. Try to be conservative until you have a handle on using the herbs and spices effectively. Don't adhere too strictly to the proportions of herbs and spices in any recipe. The quantities are always given as a guideline only. After all, who measures everything? If a chef or cook always spent time measuring things, dinner would always be late!

Sauces may be categorized into several types. There are barbecue sauces, gravies or brown sauces, white sauces, teriyaki sauces, cheese sauces, sweet and sour sauces, chili sauces, mustard sauces, cream sauces, cocktail sauces, and an endless variety of other sauces. What I hope to present here is a sampling of the more common types of sauces which can be used in many of the recipes included in this book. Some of the sauces are very basic and can be made from scratch. This is particularly valuable for those who happen to have a garden with a surplus of vegetables.

The recipes presented this month are but a small yet diverse collection of the recipes in my yet to be published book, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the recipes!

Sauces Supreme

Basic Cheese Sauce

Presented here is a basic cheese sauce recipe which can be served over steamed vegetables, fish, chicken, or even meat. The color and flavor will be dependent upon the type of cheese used to make the sauce. Processed cheeses may also be used with good results. Strong cheeses, such as Limburger, should be avoided as the sauce will overpower the flavor of the food. The spices are not required, but add a little something to the sauce to make it unique.

This sauce is excellent on broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or steamed squash. You may also use it on broiled chicken or on cooked pasta. The use of cream or half and half will make the sauce much richer than when using milk.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • Sliced cheese
  • Dash of pepper (white pepper for a light sauce with white cheese)
  • ¼ tsp. marjoram
  • ¼ tsp. tarragon
  • ¼ tsp. savory
  • 1½ cups milk, cream, or half and half (a little more if necessary)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and add the flour. Blend the flour into the melted butter thoroughly and allow to lightly brown, forming a roux. A roux is the basis of many sauces, so this one step is the first thing to learn in sauce making. Slowly blend in the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly to maintain smoothness. The milk should be added until the sauce is the consistency of a very thin pancake batter. Once all of the milk has been added and the sauce has thickened somewhat, add the spices and cheese. The cheese will make the sauce thicker. Continue stirring until all of the cheese has melted and serve with the course of your preference.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Chili Sauce

This recipe was handed down by my great grandmother and was found in the personal recipe archives. It is one of many types of chili sauce to be made. This sauce may be used with meat, fowl, beans, or combinations thereof.
  • 1 gallon ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 T. mustard seed
  • 1 pod hot pepper
  • 2 cups red and green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 T. celery seed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 T. salt
  • 1 T. paprika

Place the tomatoes, onions and peppers into a pot and simmer for 45 minutes. Place the paprika, mustard and celery seeds into a cloth bag and tie. Add this bag to the sauce after it has simmered for 45 minutes and then add the vinegar. Simmer for an additional 45 minutes or until as thick as desired. Add more sugar if desired. Remove the bag of spices and pour boiling hot into jars and seal for future use.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is traditional to Japanese cuisine. It may be used as a marinade for beef, chicken, fish or many other foods. The basic sauce is given here, but there are variations to this basic recipe depending on the food to be marinated. Fish will generally require a lighter sauce, while meats may be more heavily seasoned.

Adjust the recipe for fish by reducing the soy sauce and adding a bit of white wine (like sake or mirin). For chicken, the recipe may be made stronger by adding a little more vinegar and honey. Brown sugar may be substituted for the honey, and lemon juice may be substituted for the vinegar. When preparing chicken, one may add some pineapple juice for that Hawaiian accent.

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 1 T. ginger powder or thinly julienned fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves sliced garlic
  • ¼ cup oil (sesame oil preferred)

Combine the above ingredients and mix until everything is well dissolved. Use as a marinade for meat, chicken or fish. Some of the liquid may be reserved and thickened in a sauce pan with a little corn starch dissolved in water or wine to thicken.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Tomato Catsup

Here is an excellent recipe for homemade tomato catsup which cannot compare with the store bought varieties. Making this catsup is an excellent way for the home gardener to use the surplus of fresh homegrown tomatoes when in season. After trying this recipe, you may even want to buy a case or two of tomatoes in season, when the prices are low, to make and can your own catsup for use during the rest of the year. This catsup makes an excellent base for a cocktail or barbecue sauce. Warning.... the store bought tomato catsup will seem tasteless after trying this homemade variety!
  • 1½ tsp. whole cloves
  • 1½ tsp. stick cinnamon, broken
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 8 lbs. quartered tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp. salt

Combine the cloves, cinnamon, celery seed and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let this tea stand until needed.

In a large pot, combine the tomatoes, onion and pepper. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the liquid and sieve, discarding the peelings and seeds. Return the sauce to the pot, add the sugar and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours or until the volume has reduced by half. Now strain the tea into the tomato sauce, discarding the cloves, cinnamon and celery seed. Stir and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

This catsup may be canned using a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. In a pinch, you can even use canned tomato sauce as a basis for this catsup instead of the fresh tomatoes. Merely heat the tomato sauce and flavorings with the vinegar tea. If desired, add a little tomato paste to the catsup for thickening prior to canning.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 3 hours

Tomato Sauce

Like the tomato catsup recipe above, this tomato sauce will make the store varieties seem bland and without much flavor. Use fresh vine ripened tomatoes from the garden, or purchase a large quantity of tomatoes in season for this recipe. This sauce may be used as a basis for spaghetti sauce or any of the other dishes calling for tomato sauce.
  • 8 lbs. quartered tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 T. white vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Combine the tomatoes, bell pepper and onion in a pot and bring to a simmer on the stovetop, stirring frequently. Simmer the tomatoes for 45 minutes. Coarsely sieve the tomatoes, discarding the peelings and seeds. Add the pepper, vinegar, sugar and salt. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until the desired thickness is obtained. This sauce may be canned using a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours

Gravy for Egg Foo Young and Stir Fry Vegetables

This basic Chinese gravy is very versatile. It can be used on Egg Foo Young or stir fry. It can also be the basis for hot and sour soup with the addition of black mushrooms, chili, tofu and egg.
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. corn starch
  • ¼ can cold water

Heat one can of chicken broth in a small pot and reserve the can for water and corn starch. Add pepper to taste and the soy sauce. Stir the corn starch in ¼ can of cold water until dissolved and slowly add to the chicken broth. Stir frequently while heating until thickened and serve over Egg Foo Young.

If you use this gravy for stir fry, simply stir fry the vegetables for a few minutes and then add the chicken broth to the skillet or wok. When it begins to heat up, add the corn starch dissolved in water and the soy sauce. I pinch of sugar can be added if desired.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes


Mayonnaise is a staple in any kitchen. Here is how to make your own. This mayo can be used on sandwiches or as a dip with steamed artichokes.
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 T. lemon juice

Beat egg yolks and dry mustard together in a bowl about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a blender, or use a hand mixer in a suitable bowl. While mixing, very gradually add a little bit of the oil at a time, allowing the oil to incorporate. Add the oil very slowly or you will break the emulsion. If the mixture gets too thick, add a few drops of water until it is the proper consistency. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and use as desired.

If the emulsion breaks (that is the oil begins to separate), simply stop the process, take a new bowl and restart with a new yolk and mustard mix. Add the broken emulsion gradually to the new yolk until it is thoroughly blended in and finish slowly adding the remaining oil to complete the process.

Note: When using a blender, it is necessary to stop once in a while to scrape the mixture from the sides of the container to thoroughly blend.
  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

This sauce is of Southeast Asian origin and is also very versatile in preparing Vietnamese and Thai foods. This sauce is typically served with spring rolls that are wrapped in rice wrappers. If you choose to add a little garlic and ginger, you may use this sauce as a marinade for meats, fish or fowl prior to broiling or grilling.
  • 1 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup pureed or finely minced yellow onion
  • 1 T. ground chili paste, or to taste
  • 1 T. crushed roasted peanuts for garnish

Put the Hoisin sauce, water, onion and chili paste into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. If it is a little too think, add a little water. Allow to cool. Place the mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts. Additional chili paste may be added to taste if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is a versatile sauce that is usually used with pasta, like fettuccini. You may also however, use it on pizza or as a condiment to a meat, fowl or fish dish. This sauce may be stored under refrigeration for a week or more (without the cheese). It may also be frozen and used at a later time.
  • 2 cups fresh basil, washed, stems removed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 oz. pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan (reserve for serving)

Put all ingredients except the cheese in a blender and blend thoroughly. Add the cheese before serving.

For some variation on this theme, you may add cilantro or onion to the mixture as well. And, if you happen to have an herb garden, don't be afraid to add a little of whatever herbs you happen to be growing. I would caution about using too much sage or rosemary. However, tarragon, savory, marjoram and thyme would be excellent additions to this basic pesto and could be used generously.

I use this sauce over hot pasta. Simply spoon it on and mix it in. Heating is not necessary when serving with hot food.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes