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Five sauces from French cuisine that you should know


Highlights: According to Auguste Escoffier's culinary guide, these five basic sauces are the absolute standard in French cuisine. Hollandaise sauce is made from butter, egg and lemon juice and is usually served with dishes with seafood, vegetables or asparagus. Tomato sauce comes from Italian cuisine, where it was first introduced in writing by Pietro Andrea Mattioli in 1554. Béchamel sauce, also known as milk sauce, is a recipe for the light sauce, which can be used as a side, but also for binding or gratinating casseroles.

These delicious recipes should not be missing in any cookbook: with the French basic sauces you can spice up almost any dish.

We Germans are often satisfied with ketchup on the noodles and mayo as a side dish. With the French, it has to be a little finer. The chefs from the neighboring country have almost perfected the art of sauce preparation and many of them, such as hollandaise sauce, are also popular classics in Germany, when there are not fries and the food should be a little more elegant.

According to Auguste Escoffier's culinary guide – the reference book of classic French cuisine (original title: "Le Guide Culinaire – Aide-mémoire de cuisine pratique"), these five basic sauces, or "sauces" on German, are the absolute standard in French cuisine and should not be missing from the cookbook of every amateur chef.

The five basic sauces: 1. Hollandaise sauce

Although hollandaise sauce has "Holland" in its name, it was invented in the 18th century in Normandy, France. The name could be a reference to very high quality Dutch dairy products that were used for the sauce. The oldest known recipe for Dutch sauce comes from the book "Dons de Comus" from 1758 and contained only butter, flour, bouillon and herbs.

Recipes such as hollandaise sauce are among the five classics of French cuisine. © Imago

Today, hollandaise sauce is made from butter, egg and lemon juice and is usually served with dishes with seafood, vegetables or asparagus.

An example recipe for a hollandaise sauce:


  • 250 grams of butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Cayenne pepper


  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, but do not heat it.
  • Put the three egg yolks, lemon juice, water and a little salt in a second saucepan and place it in a hot water bath.
  • Stir with a blender until the sauce is creamy.
  • Remove the pot from the water bath.
  • Now add the melted butter spoonful by spoon to the rest of the sauce and continue stirring.
  • After that, you can season with salt and pepper to taste. The sauce is ready to serve immediately.
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    The hollandaise sauce cannot be reheated because it will curdle.

    Five sauces from French cuisine: 2. Tomato sauce

    Sounds trivial, but it is an important part of good cuisine: tomato sauce. Actually, tomato sauce comes from Italian cuisine, where it was first introduced in writing by Pietro Andrea Mattioli in 1554. It is believed that the Italians got the idea from the Spaniards, who roasted tomatoes in the Aztec style hundreds of years ago.

    Today, the tomato sauce has also established itself in French cuisine and is prepared according to the classic original not only from tomatoes, but also from onions and herbs and sometimes also from ham or bacon. Tomato sauce is usually served with pasta and pasta dishes, the recipes now vary from area to area, from family to family.

    An example recipe for a classic tomato sauce:


    • 2 onions
    • 2 cans of peeled tomatoes
    • 2 sprigs of thyme
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Pepper
    • Salt


    Peel the onions and garlic, cut into small pieces and sauté in olive oil in a saucepan until translucent. Add peeled tomatoes and tomato paste and season with salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, basil and thyme. Simmer over low heat for up to 25 minutes, stirring.


    If you want the sauce to be finer, you can puree the tomatoes beforehand or the entire sauce afterwards.

    3. Béchamel sauce

    Béchamel sauce, also known as milk sauce, is a sauce in which flour is bound with a milk sweat. Butter also belongs in the recipe for the light sauce, which can be used not only as a side dish, but also for binding or gratinating casseroles, pasta or the like.

    Where and when the béchamel sauce originated is no longer traceable today. There are several theories that attribute the invention of the sauce to either the French or the Italians in the 16th or 17th centuries. However, it was named after the Frenchman Louis de Béchamel, a wealthy banker who lived at the court of Louis XIV and was particularly fond of the sauce. But he didn't invent it.

    Presumably, the recipe has been around for much longer and it has been adapted and changed again and again by different nations. From the Béchamel sauce, the cardinal sauce, the Lyon sauce, cream sauce, cheese sauce or Mornay sauce (named after the French Count Philippe de Mornay) and the sauce Soubise, a white onion sauce, can also be derived.

    An example recipe for a béchamel sauce:


    • 1 bay leaf
    • 500 milliliters of milk
    • 50 grams of flour
    • 50 grams of butter
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Nutmeg


    Slowly bring the milk to a boil with the bay leaf in a saucepan. In a second saucepan, melt the butter and let the flour slowly sauté in it without it starting to brown. Then remove the butter pot from the heat. Remove the bay leaf from the milk and slowly add the milk to the roux, stirring so that no lumps form. Bring the whole mixture to a boil again and let it thicken, stirring constantly. Then simmer for another two minutes on the lowest setting and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

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    4. Velouté sauce

    The Velouté sauce, also known as velvet sauce, is a variant of the béchamel sauce for which a light poultry, veal, fish or vegetable broth is used instead of milk. It is also one of the white basic sauces and is an integral part of French cuisine.

    An example recipe for a Velouté sauce:


    • 40 grams of butter
    • 40 grams of flour
    • 750 millilitres of light background
    • Nutmeg
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    Melt the butter, add the flour and sauté without browning. Add about half of the stock and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the rest of the liquid, bring to a boil, and then thicken while stirring. Finally, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

    5. Espagnole sauce

    Espagnole sauce, also known as Spanish sauce or Spanish dip, is a creamy, spicy, dark sauce that is mainly served with savory dishes. It is made from vegetables, butter, flour, broth and stock and is said to have its origins in antiquity in the 6th century BC.

    Over the millennia, seasoning sauces have naturally evolved and the brown sauce used today dates back to 18th-century French cuisine. At that time, chefs developed the recipes that are still used today in the "haute cuisine" era, which in German means "high culinary art". In the culinary art guide, the Spanish sauce, which is also often called brown sauce, is described with brown stock, roux and a roasted vegetable mixture (mirepoix).

    An example recipe for a sauce Espagnole:


    • 3 tablespoons of oil
    • 60 grams of diced bacon
    • 1/2 onion
    • 1/2 carrot
    • 1 tomato
    • 2 teaspoons of tomato puree
    • 30 grams of flour
    • 1 litre dark background
    • 1 bunch of mixed herbs
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    Sauté the ham in oil in a saucepan. Cut the onions and carrots into small pieces, add and fry until soft. Add flour and roast for five minutes, stirring, until a dark brown color is obtained. Remove the roux from the heat, let it cool and bring the stock to a boil in a second saucepan. Add the stock to the roux and bring to a boil until the sauce thickens. Add tomatoes, puree, herbs and simmer sauce for up to four hours. Stir occasionally and skim off. When the sauce is shiny, tastes good and has halved in quantity, sift out the solid ingredients. Finally, season with salt and pepper.

    Source: merkur

    All life articles on 2023-06-04

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