Which sauce goes well with fish? Here are 5 classic sauces from French cuisine
Sauces make even the simplest dishes a highlight. But which sauce goes best with fish? Today we’re going to show you a few simple ideas for classic sauces that are ideal to serve with fish and seafood.
Classic butter sauces that go well with fish
Hollandaise is a wonderfully rich, lemony and buttery sauce that goes well with all kinds of poached and grilled fish dishes, as well as eggs and vegetables. It’s a classic sauce from French cuisine, but you don’t have to be a master chef to make it.
If you want to make hollandaise sauce yourself, it is best to use clarified butter. Why? Clarified butter is pure fat, while ordinary butter contains 16 to 17 percent water, which can weaken the emulsion.
It is also important to use only egg yolks and not whole eggs. If you heat the egg yolks gently over a water bath, you change the proteins so that they combine more effectively with the fat droplets in the clarified butter. This creates a more stable emulsion, which means your hollandaise won’t curdle. At the same time, you shouldn’t overheat the egg yolks either. Egg yolk loses its emulsifying power when cooked, which is why the water bath method is used for heating. If you heat the yolks too much, the result would be scrambled eggs.
Beurre Blanc (white butter sauce)
Beurre Blanc is a simple butter-based sauce that goes great with steamed fish fillets and pan-fried fish. Beurre Blanc was created in the 1890s in Nantes, a city in western France near the Atlantic coast and was originally called Beurre Nantes. Legend has it that a cook named Clémence made lefeuvre béarnaise sauce but forgot to add the egg yolks. Aside from historical anecdotes, these two sauces are often confused. But the difference is that Béarnaise uses clarified, warm butter. Beurre Blanc, on the other hand, uses ordinary butter and it is important that it is as cold as possible.
Beurre Blanc tastes velvety and rich thanks to the butter, but is also slightly sweet and spicy. Good wines for reduction are Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay, but any other dry white wine will work too.
450 g unsalted butter (cold)
240 ml dry white wine
120 ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon shallot (finely chopped)
Salt (to taste)
– Cut the butter into medium-sized cubes and put it back in the fridge to keep it cold.
– Heat the wine, vinegar and shallots in a saucepan over high heat until the liquid boils. Continue cooking until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 30 to 40 minutes.
– Reduce the heat to low, take the butter cubes out of the refrigerator and gradually stir in with the whisk. When the first 2-3 cubes are melted and incorporated, add the next and keep stirring. Continue until there are only 2 to 3 cubes left. This process should take around 25 to 30 minutes. It is faster if you work in the butter with a hand blender. The finished sauce should be thick and smooth.
– Add salt to taste.
How to prepare a sauce for fish with fish stock?
Velouté is one of the five basic sauces in classic French cuisine. It can be made with any white broth, but this variant, the fish velouté, is made with fish broth. There is also veal velouté and chicken velouté.
Fish velouté is the basis for the traditional one White wine sauce as well as the classic Bercy sauce, the Normandy sauce and many others. It is prepared by boiling a roux (melted butter and flour) into a light yellow paste, combining it with fish broth and cooking it until it is reduced and has a velvety consistency.
Sauce Bercy is named after a district in the east of Paris. It is a light, light sauce made from white wine, shallots and fish velouté.
Ingredients for about 450 ml sauce:
450 ml fish velouté
60 ml white wine
2 tablespoons of chopped shallots
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter
Lemon juice to taste
– Put the wine and shallots in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half.
– Add the velouté and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced.
– Stir in butter and chopped parsley. Season to taste with lemon juice and serve immediately.
Sauce for fish with cream and mushrooms: The Norman sauce
Normandy sauce is another classic sauce for fish, seafood and fettuccine. It goes ideally with white fish. The sauce is prepared by seasoning a fish velouté with chopped mushrooms and then thickening it with a mixture of egg yolk and cream called a liaison. To prevent the eggs from curdling, they should first be tempered with some of the hot fish stock.
500 ml fish velouté
60 ml fish broth
100 g mushrooms (chopped)
100 ml whipped cream 30% / whipped cream
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
– Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and fry the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they are soft.
– Add the velouté and the fish stock to the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced by about a third.
– In a stainless steel or glass bowl, stir the cream and egg yolks until smooth. Then slowly add about one cup of the hot Velouté to the cream and egg mixture, stirring constantly. Now gradually stir the warm liquid back into the velouté.
– Bring the sauce back to the boil for a moment, but do not let it boil.
– Stir in the remaining butter and serve immediately.
Simple sauce with fish with white wine
The white wine sauce is one of the most basic sauces in French cuisine for seafood dishes. It’s also the basis on which a number of other classic sauces are made. The sauce is prepared by reducing white wine and then boiling it in a simple fish velouté and some cream.
125 ml whipped cream 30%
125 ml dry white wine
1 liter of fish velouté
1 tablespoon butter
Salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
A shot of freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
– Carefully heat the cream in a saucepan to just below the boiling point, but do not let it boil. Cover and keep warm.
– Simmer the wine in a separate saucepan until it has reduced by half.
– Add the Velouté fish to the wine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the whole thing has decreased by about 1 cup.
– Add the warm cream to the wine mixture and let it simmer again for a moment.
– Stir in butter, season with salt and white pepper and just add a dash of lemon juice. Strain through a cheesecloth and serve immediately.
To make a creamy herb and white wine sauce for fish fillet, you can add fresh parsley, chives and tarragon to a simple white wine sauce. If you don’t have these exact herbs, then use whatever herbs you have while they are fresh and not dried. Try to stick with soft-leaved herbs instead of using woody ones like rosemary.