About twenty years ago the late, great Noel Crawford developed a range of sauces to sell at the Farmers’ Market. Noel’s sensitive palate, generous nature, and zealous passion were and still are evidenced in every bottle of Aromatics’ sauce.

I worked for Noel, and learned that balancing the proportions of fifteen ingredients, cooking them in the right order for the right amount of time was a labour of love and aspiration to create a special moment for the purchaser. Here’s to you Noel.

Whether it’s a boat of gravy or skiff of sriracha we do love the lubrication and titillation of a good sauce. It brings flavour and texture to enhance and delight. Sauce is ever present, whether to add a nuance at a restaurant table to an expertly crafted dish or to disguise an over-barbecued-backyard-banger as the sun sets and the mozzies come out for dinner. Smeared over a plate with the back of a spoon or slapped from a bottle with the palm of a hand, sauce just makes things better.

Something hot and acidic splashed on perfectly poached eggs. Something hot, thick, and full of tomatoes dolloped on the side of a plate of sausages. Something hot, aromatic, and oily spooned over fried rice. I have my favourites that I know will hit the spot but I do like to try something new. An interesting find in the big city or a pity purchase at a market.

A glance at our fridge and pantry is met with an arsenal of options for dipping, drizzling, pouring, spooning, and sloshing. A well-aged collection of staple favourites in front of impulse purchases, which often fail to draw us back for a second helping but are not offensive enough to throw away.

According to the Facegram we should all know how to make our own chilli oil and according to the great Carēme (1784-1833) we should all know how to make the Mother sauces of French cuisine. I agree, we should, in a Stepford Wives reimagining of our lives, make all of these things. If only to annoy our friends with blasé references to home-made velouté and nam jim.

Whether it’s a cooking sauce, a finishing sauce, a condiment sauce, or a dipping sauce (surely a dipping sauce is a dip?) it is handy to know how to make a couple of options.

As an eighteen-year-old flatting, I created my first sauce-making memory, which was the catalyst for my mother to send me a recipe book. I was convinced that I’d seen her grating cheese into boiling milk to make mac and cheese. It doesn’t work. So I learned, from the book, how to make a white sauce or bechamel. And yes, of course my mother was to blame (aren’t they always?), for sending me into the world so poorly equipped to deal with feeding myself.

A sauce envelopes and disguises a disappointing cooking attempt and turns a packet of cheap pasta into a filling feast. Forty years on from the stringy cheese and milk episode and I make the best mac n cheese in town.

So what other tricks are good for your sauce bag? Here’s a dozen suggestions. Recipes are easily had via books or the web. Bear in mind that often you can buy a sauce that’s better than you can make at home. I avoid sauces that list water as the first or second ingredient and those that list lots of gums, thickeners, and numbers.

1. Whether it’s a runny vinegar base or a sweet chilli version a good hot sauce can make a piece of cardboard palatable.

2. Mayonnaise and its many variations.

3. Something developed from meat juices. A jus and/or gravy. Get yourself a roux whisk. I love mine.

4. A quick-fire tomato sauce for pasta. The puttanesca is the classic for the time poor.

5. Tom yum – The quintessential flavours of Thailand that can be sauce or soup.

6. Curry – Indian style made from freshly ground spices. As hot or not as you like gives you the ability to take any mixture of vegetables and optionally meat and give them a cohesive base.

7. Jerk – Hot Jamaican flavours of allspice and scotch bonnet. Keep it close to your bbq.

8. Salsa verde and chimichurri – These two share some ingredients and are also similar in that they require no cooking and are easy to make. They add some zing to bbq and roasts.

9. Romesco sauce – Another classic that requires no cooking. Pair this with chicken, vegetables, and eggs.

10. Shakshuka – North African spiced tomato and capsicum chunky sauce. Famously used to poach eggs.

11. Teriyaki – Dipping sauce or marinade, it’s a bullet-proof favourite for most meats.

12. Peanut sauce – Dress salads and noodles or dip away. Another no-cook easy sauce.

May the sauce be with you. 

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