The Sauces You’ll Want To Put On Everything | sheerluxe.com
We are all partial to a dash of ketchup, however there’s a world of sauces out there far more exotic than a bottle of Heinz. Who better to ask for culinary inspiration than 12 of the UK’s most accomplished chefs? We found out which bottles they reach for when they want to ramp up the flavour
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Chef Adam Gray from London’s Devonshire Club

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

  • I use English mustard a lot. If used in moderation, it really adds a diverse element to the dish.
  • A great Hollandaise sauce is the cornerstone of any technical chef. It is a hard sauce to master, but it is truly amazing if made correctly.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Soya sauce – I use it quite a lot instead of salt in cooking as it has naturally salty flavour.
  • HP sauce – The fruity, zingy flavour is great for giving homemade relishes, chutneys and casseroles extra depth of flavour and body.
  • Chipotle ketchup – Always good for adding to pasta sauce or hash to give a subtle kick of spice.
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce – I always use a splash of it in a homemade gravy to give a touch of acidity and stop the gravy tasting fatty. Also, it’s great in Welsh Rarebit and in salad dressings too.
  • Tiptree BBQ sauce – Beautiful, subtle BBQ sauce, great to accompany any grilled meat.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit? 

Horseradish sauce – everyone assumes it’s just an accompaniment to roast beef, but it can be used in salads, dressings and vegetable marinades.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce – a few drops can enhance casseroles, sauces and marinades.

Alex Jackson – Head Chef at Sardine

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

  • Aïoli
  • Bottarga Sauce
  • Dried Cep, Bone Marrow & Bread Sauce
  • Romesco Sauce
  • Sauce Gribiche

 What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Nando’s Peri-Peri (Hot) - Strictly for weird things I cook for myself at home after work.
  • Sriracha (a staff favourite)
  • Sichuan Chilli Bean Sauce

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

Mayonnaise (100% olive oil, by the way). Not many people make it like this, or if they do, they often use the wrong kind of olive oil.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

A bit of Tabasco goes a long way. Too much is a bad thing though.

Diego Cardoso – Chef Director at Harry’s Bar & Harry’s Dolce Vita

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

I am a big fan of mustard. It’s so versatile and I love the heat it brings to dishes and sauces. My favourite type is the Maille black truffle mustard - it’s brilliant, so different from any other I’ve tried.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Mustard - It adds an extra layer of flavour to sauces.
  • Hot sauce - I love sauces that pack a punch. Whenever I’m in the supermarket, I’ll look for different varieties of hot sauces to try out – I’ve got a very large collection now.
  • Maple syrup – I use this a lot in both restaurants and at home to finish sauces and add a bit of sweetness to the dish.
  • Soy sauce – It brings a lovely umami element to a dish.
  • Ponzu – I often use ponzu (a citrus-based sauce) to add a touch of sharpness to a recipe, if not ponzu I use the zest of a lemon.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

Chimichurri – this Argentine herb salsa traditionally served with steak, works really well as a marinade for long, slow cooking. The sauce is a combination of a variety of different herbs (parsley, coriander and oregano) combined with spices to create a sauce which really enhances any dish it’s paired with. I make this a lot at home and it goes down a treat with family and friends.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

My go-to sauce for adding a lovely layer of Unami flavour is soy sauce. Add just a small dash of this to any dish, and the flavour is automatically transformed.

George Barson – Executive Chef of Cora Pearl and Kitty Fisher’s

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves? 

  • At home, I always like to have tomato ketchup on hand to go with eggs and bacon sandwiches.
  • Geo Watkins mushroom ketchup - great for adding depth of flavour and a touch of acidity to many dishes. 
  • Sriracha for Asian recipes as well as adding a touch of heat to a pasta sauce.
  • As a chef, people seem to expect me to always cook extravagant recipes at home, but one of my post-work favourites is jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn, so Hellman’s mayonnaise is an essential for this.
  • I also love white soy - it’s less intense than dark soy but still adds a great umami punch to lots of dishes.

In your opinion, which sauce don't get enough credit?

White soy is often overlooked in favour of the stronger dark soy. But it’s got a subtler flavour that makes it really versatile.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

Mushroom ketchup.

Miles Kirby – Co-owner and Executive Chef at Caravan

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

Soy sauce and fish sauce.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Chiu chow chilli oil as a dipping sauce or drizzled over rice, noodles or an Asian style soup, it elevates any dish beyond its original station.
  • Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce). Its unique flavour is very difficult to replace in south east Asian cookery.
  • Kikkoman light soy sauce. I use it to season, when used with vinegar and mirin, it can ‘fill out’ a dish with robust flavour if it is absent.
  • Heinz Tomato ketchup, because my eldest son puts it on everything.
  • Kewpie Mayonnaise, because I put it on everything.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

Fish sauce. People are put off by the smell. If used with care, it is a great seasoning agent.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

Worcestershire sauce – it’s a good enhancer if things don’t taste quite right. I will often add it to a meaty ragu if I’ve rushed the cooking and the flavours have not had the opportunity to develop entirely. Its subtle, meaty and full of flavour.

Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones of Tart London / Wild by Tart

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Tahini - it’s sensuously silky, with delicate depths of roasted sesame. We use it a lot, it’s a big addiction! It is versatile - added to dips, made into dressings, stirred into spicy miso noodle soups and even baked into chocolate chip salted cookies - yum! 
  • Mustard is a must have staple, a good old Dijon. Favourite for mixing into naughty creamy cheesy numbers, which are always needed during the week. And of course, for a classic peppery dressing.
  • Soy sauce - salty and moreish. We love Asian food, so soy is always close to hand. It’s a must for adding into marinades, especially for BBQ season.
  • A good spicy sauce that packs a punch - we are loving our smokey, spicy Tart hot sauce (sold at our Wild by Tart deli).
  • A vinegar - we use apple cider a lot, Willy’s apple cider is delicious.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

  • Fish sauce is misunderstood and underestimated. It’s one of the best flavour enhancers.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

  • Worcestershire sauce, mirin and good quality vinegars.

Chef Steve Beadle (ex-River Café) – head chef at Senate Room

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

  • I like to work with olive oil based Italian sauces, which have a vibrancy you don’t always get with some of the more traditional French, creamy sauces.
  • Salsa Verde is a favourite. I love to serve this with chargrilled lamb, porchetta or fish.
  • Chilli and mint sauce make a great pairing with seared scallops or tuna carpaccio and salsa rossa is delicious with steak.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • I love to add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to tomato-based sauces for added depth of umami flavour.
  • Dijon mustard is an essential for adding to mayonnaise and dressings.
  • A good quality aged Balsamic vinegar is a must. It’s a beautiful condiment in itself.
  • At home I love Sriracha sauce for adding heat to Asian dishes such as Singapore noodles.
  • Quince jelly is a wonderful accompaniment to cheese, but it is also a fantastic addition to game sauces.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

Merlot vinegar is a must have in my kitchen. It has a variety of uses and it forms an essential part of many dressings. It’s also a key component in some of my favourite Italian dishes such as Puntarelle, a classic Roman vegetable salad, and for Spalla di Maiale All'aceto - shoulder of pork cooked in vinegar with bay leaves.

 What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

You can’t go wrong with Salsa Verde. Its fresh flavours are incredibly versatile and match fantastically with a whole variety of fish, meats and vegetables.

Saiphin Moore – Founder and Executive Chef at Rosa's Thai Café

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

  • Fish sauce is a staple for me, I use it in everything - curries, soups, salads, you name it.
  • Oyster sauce and soy sauce are the basics for a good stir fry. You can fry just about anything in oyster sauce, garlic and black pepper for a quick and easy meal.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Fish sauce. It’s one of the main ingredients in my favourite dish, papaya salad. It's the base for a lot of Thai cooking, salty and pungent but adds a lot of flavour.
  • Seafood sauce, but not the kind you're probably thinking of. My homemade Thai seafood sauce uses lots of fresh chillies, garlic, fish sauce and lime. It's the perfect dipping sauce for fish, pork, chicken - pretty much everything and I always have a pot of it in my fridge.
  • Light soy
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sriracha (to go with Thai-style fried egg).

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?
Roasted chilli sauce, it can be added to just about anything to give it a rich smoky flavour and adds some spice too.

Manmeet Singh-Bali – Head Chef at Ooty

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

We don't use many cooking sauces in Indian cuisine, however I always keep tamarind paste in my cupboard as it's a brilliant way to add a touch of sweet and sour to dishes. I also always have an onion and tomato masala or Makhani gravy (a spicy tomato sauce) in my cupboard, as both are perfect base for a variety of curries.

What sauce is your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

I find a coconut moilee really useful as it's incredibly versatile and has a great depth of flavour, you can add it to pasta, meat or fish for a simple and easy meal.

In your opinion, which sauces don't get enough credit? And why?

Makhani gravy and moilee form the basis of a lot of my home cooking but aren't that common in most people's homes. There is so much you can do with them, so I always advise home cooks to make up a batch and keep it in the fridge for easy weekday suppers.

What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

I also love a simple chilli and garlic sauce, made by boiling chillies before grinding them coarsely and cooking in a little oil with the garlic. 

Co-owner and executive chef Cameron Emirali of 10 Greek Street and Whitechapel Refectory Café

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

Salsa Verde, horseradish crème fraiche, trapanese (in spring I’ll mix with wild garlic), beurre blancs with lemon butter (In summer I’ll mix with samphire and lemon butter); Beurre Blancs complement certain fish dishes or I’ll serve lemon butters with cockerel.

What five sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Nduja
  • Pesto
  • Bagna Cauda
  • Harissa
  • Caper mayonnaise

 In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit?

Beef jus. Beef jus is a labour of love and is seriously taken for granted. We’ve constantly got a pot on which cooks for eight hours a day; it’s the workmanship and labour that goes into reducing 60 litres into three. If we ever close for a couple of days, we come in two days early just to begin making our beef jus  – it takes so long to prepare.
 
What's your go-to sauce for adding flavour without overpowering food?

Salsa Verde, with anchovy and capers blended through it. This goes well with a bean cassoulet.

Nuno Franco, Executive Chef of the Out of the Woods Group which includes The Oak W2, The Oak W12, The Bird in Hand London and just opened The Oak SW11, in Battersea

What sauce are staples in your cooking?

They all evolve from classics, for example, jus; chicken, fish and veg stocks, etc; veloutes, salsas, pestos, emulsions (mayos/aiolis), coulis, gels, etc. A good base makes all the difference.

What four sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves?

  • Soya Sauce- for an umami punch.
  • Fish Sauce- to salt with some extra fish flavour.
  • Sriracha- nice heat with some acidity, sourness.
  • Ponzu-exotic and citrusy with a nice tanginess. 

In your opinion, which sauce don't get enough credit?

Soya sauce is one of the more humble of pantry sauces – a bit underrated or ignored. It helps to intensify flavours without being too intrusive.

Henry Harris – Chef Director of The Crown in Chiswick

What sauces are staples in your cooking?

Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, hollandaise, olive oil vinaigrette and gravy are my main go-to’s for flavour.

What four sauces are your kitchen cupboard must-haves? And why?

  • Tabasco for its warmth and acidity.
  • Dijon Mustard. It has a comfort, a vibrancy and spice. Essential in vinaigrettes. A good blob on the side of the plate is essential alongside a good roast chicken.
  • Kikkoman Soy Sauce- for seasoning not flavouring.
  • Amoy Chilli Sauce- an essential for dipping prawn crackers into.

In your opinion, which sauce doesn't get enough credit? And why?

Henderson’s Relish, my son brought some back from Sheffield and what heaven it is to throw a generous splash of it over cheese on toast or a Shepherd’s pie.

Jasmine Hemsley – Chef, Wellbeing Expert and Author of East by West

What sauces do you rely on and why?

  • Chutney- Ayurveda tells us to balance the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent) in each meal to stimulate our digestion, which is why chutneys (and pickles) are the perfect addition to a savoury dish: they add the sweet, sour and pungent (think spiced) tastes — turning a simple meal like a dal into something truly satisfying.

 

  • Tamari- Tamari is similar to soy sauce, made from fermented soybeans, but with a thicker consistency, more concentrated flavour and the advantage of often being gluten-free. I love seasoning with a dash of tamari in place of sea salt when making an Asian-inspired recipe, like Chinese slow cooker congee or shiitake and sweetcorn soup.

 

  • Mustard- I love mustard, the sweet and spicy preparation made with whole or creamed mustard seeds cooked with salt and lemon juice, or vinegar, and used as a popular condiment for western dishes. A dash of mustard ready-made sauce is always good to have on hand and adds a delicious piquancy to a favourite recipe from East by West, Gary Gorrow’s rasta dal.

 

  • Fish sauce- Fish sauce is pretty potent and tasting it on its own is not for the faint-hearted. This concentrate, made from salt-cured fish fermented for up to two years, gives a powerful, umami flavour to any dish and provides the deep flavour missing from vegetarian dishes that rely mostly on garlic, nutritional yeast or cheese. Try experimenting with it in a simple dal or bean stew for some added oomph. Especially suited to Asian dishes such as Thai and Filipino specialties, where it’s an essential ingredient, give it a go in my Thai white radish and glass noodle salad.

 

  • Tamarind- Inspired by the Filipino dishes I grew up with, as well as the Indian Ayurvedic cuisine I am researching, I use tamarind in many of my recipes. I can’t get enough of the sticky-fleshed fruit of the tamarind tree, it has a sweet and tangy flavour and is great for digestion. In the UK you can pick it up either in dried fruit form – it looks a bit like blocks of dates – or for ease buy it ready blended in a jar to provide a distinctive tang to recipes in place of lemon and lime. Try my fried eggs with tamarind and quinoa cauliflower rice or make yourself a fresh tamarind juice like they do in Zanzibar.

 

  • Miso- A proper miso soup is hard to beat, and many elements go into making an authentic one, but miso paste on its own makes a brilliant addition to western-style dishes like salad dressings and meat and vegetable marinades or swirled into simple soups for a quick flavour boost. Look for a good quality fermented miso and pick one that’s live if possible, for added probiotic benefits. Keep it in your fridge for a year or more — if it lasts that long! To give it a try in its natural setting, try my take on Japanese soba noodle soup.

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