Favorite sauces

Last week I posted five of my go-to spice blends. This time the focus is on sauces, spreads, dips, dressings – it’s all in how they’re used. Some are especially good with grilled meats, some are great as salad or noodle dressings, some beg for a crusty bread for dipping. And some are good for any of those possibilities.

There are a few items you’ll want to keep stocked so you can make these whenever your dinner needs a little lift. Soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, red curry paste, chili paste, and chili-garlic sauce can be found in most grocery stores but it’s worth seeking out an oriental grocery for them. You’ll get more for less money and the flavor is better. Fresh ginger can be cut into 1″ chunks and frozen. One piece will yield 2-3 tablespoons after grating. Peel away the thin outer layer and grate the ginger while still frozen. Pomegranate molasses and harissa paste can be purchased through Amazon if you can’t find it locally.

Most of these they will last for weeks in your refrigerator. Store in a tightly covered glass jar and stir or shake well before using. The flavor of dressings is best if allowed to come to room temperature before use. For more favorites, check out warm tarragon dressing, green goddess dressing, and lemon-thyme vinaigrette.

– Joan, 10 January 2020


Tzatziki with garlic and dill


  • 2 cups plain, whole-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup fresh dill, minced
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Stir all together and refrigerate overnight before use to let flavors blend. Use on fish, as a dressing for pasta salads or a dip for crudité.



  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced fine
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ cup olive oil

Use an immersion blender to blend everything together. Let sit for several hours or overnight before using. Great on grilled meats.



  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 slices day-old white bread
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ cup harissa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons agave syrup, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

Pulse onion, pepper, walnuts, and bread in a food processor till coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process just until mixture is semi-smooth. This spread is good on vegetables, bread, naan, pita chips, and roll-ups with meat, cheese, and greens.

Thai sauce

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • ¼ cup peanut butter, preferably freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Use an immersion blender to mix all ingredients together till smooth. This is what we use on our wood-fired Thai chicken pizzas. It also makes a great dressing for noodle salad with diced chicken and spinach. Top pizza or salad with chopped peanuts, cucumber, chopped green onion, chopped sweet bell pepper, and cilantro leaves.

Spicy-sweet Asian sauce


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup chili-garlic sauce or sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger with garlic 

Cook all together in saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, till sauce begins to thicken. If using in a stir fry, stir together the ingredients and then add to the cooked vegetables and meat and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce begins to thicken (it will thicken more as it cools). Also makes a good dipping sauce for chicken fingers or chislic.


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