Three Slurp-Worthy Sauces

First it was last Sunday’s smoking hot salmon, which took a total of two eons to emerge from a we-are-in-the-weeds kitchen. Not 24 hours later, it was the steaming spoonful of curried mussel broth that continued its merry sizzling right against the roof of my mouth. And then, just when I was getting rid of that bland but brutal I-burnt-my-tongue taste, it was the handful of roasty-oasty-TOASTY walnuts straight from the [still warped] baking sheet.

I’m beginning to realize that patience is not one of my strong suits.

But now that [most of] my taste buds are back, I’m really looking forward to cooking again. On a regular day, I start “cooking” by picking a protein and a few spices to match. Those mismatched and mostly labeled jars [that I fell in love with long before I fell in love with cooking] house simple formulas for success. For example, salt + shallots + chives + garlic + onion + green peppercorns = homerun [on just about anything].

Dried spices [especially the already-mixed-into-a-blend-you’d-never-think-of-variety] are perfect for those of us who took one look at the get-your-patience-here line at birth and made a beeline for the world instead.

But after using spices day in and day out, sauces start to sound really good.

Putting together a sauce or a marinade puts my patience to the test. It’s a sad truth. Sometimes I just don’t feel up for handling raw steak and soy sauce before I’ve had my morning yogurt.

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Sometimes I have absolutely no desire to make my cutting board smell like green onions for the foreseeable future.

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Sometimes I feel like a shake of lemon pepper seasoning would be a perfectly acceptable substitute for the juice of half a lemon.

But whenever I DO go to the trouble of twirling around every unidentified bottle of oil and vinegar in the pantry, I swear I’m going to overcome my impatience and make another sauce again tomorrow. My favorite cut of beef [peppered with my go-to Chicago steakhouse seasoning] doesn’t hold a candle to a lesser cut of beef that’s been marinated and thrown into a salad/saved for later.

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Chicken and fish also become noticeably more flavorful and more tender. The trick is just to find a sauce that is so satisfying and so slurp-worthy that you forget all about how annoying it was to make. I’ve found three winners [see below]. One is for chicken, one is for fish, and one is for steak. This way, the bases are loaded whenever the “what’s for dinner?” game gets going.

 

HONEY KEY LIME CHICKEN

Recipe [Serves 4]:

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

5 tablespoons freshly squeezed key lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ tsp. lemon pepper seasoning

Method:

In a resealable plastic bag, mix the key lime juice, honey, garlic, and lemon pepper. Place the chicken in the bag, seal, and shake to coat.

Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours [but no less than 2], shaking the contents of the bag occasionally.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Grill the marinated chicken about 8 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Discard remaining marinade.

Barely adapted from AllRecipes.com

 

WHITE FISH WITH SESAME-SCALLION SAUCE

Recipe [Serves 4]:

Ingredients:

1 1/3 pounds white fish fillets, such as haddock or cod

¼ cup finely sliced green onions [scallions]

1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced or forced through a press

1 teaspoon finely grated gingerroot

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon hot chili oil

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

½ teaspoon sugar [or a few sprinkles of Stevia instead]

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

Combine the scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, water, chili oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar/Stevia and lemon juice.

Put the fish fillets in a baking pan and spoon a little of the sauce on top.

Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 10-12 minutes, or until the fish flakes [cooking time will vary slightly in accordance with the thickness of the fillets].

Spoon the remaining sauce over the fish and serve.

Barely adapted from The Seattle Times Light Recipe [circa 1994]

 

SUREFIRE SUCCULENT STEAK

Recipe [Serves 4]:

Ingredients:

1 ½ lb [London broil, flank, or sirloin] steak, trimmed

juice of 1 lemon

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup or more dry red wine

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 large garlic clove, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Green onion or chives, chopped [optional]

Method:

Mix all ingredients in the pan in which the meat is to be marinated.

Marinate steak, turning occasionally, for 2 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Grill the marinated steak, flipping once, until desired degree of doneness.

Slice meat on the diagonal across the grain and serve.

Barely adapted from the Colorado Cache Cookbook [compiled by the Colorado League of Denver, circa 1978]

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