Not all barbecue sauces are created equal. Or created the same, for that matter. Anywhere in the world where there’s barbecue (that is, everywhere) there’s barbecue sauce. Fire it up.
Made fresh, satay sauce goes from suburban to sublime. Start with an aromatic base of finely chopped red shallot, lemongrass and galangal. Fry it off with crushed cumin and coriander seeds, simmer with coconut milk, then blend it with roasted peanuts and season with tamarind and kecap manis. It is, of course, a very natural fit with things grilled on sticks (try prawns or a mixture of prawn and chicken to change things up). Finish with a squeeze of lime for zing.
Variations on this Thai dipping sauce abound, but in essence it’s garlic and hot chilli pounded to a paste with salt, then mixed with fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Try using roasted dried chilli in place of (or in addition to) the fresh chilli for more depth, and finish with chopped coriander and thinly sliced spring onion. This sauce will definitely add punch and bright flavour to your next barbecue; it’s killer with grilled chicken, and brings the fun to fish cakes.
The staggering volume of grilled meat enjoyed at Argentinean asados is surely helped along by the freshness and piquancy of this herb sauce. The standard is green: a mixture of parsley, oregano and garlic pounded to a purée with a mortar and pestle (it also comes up a treat in a food processor), then thinned with vinegar and oil; the rojo version is spiced up with hot red chilli.
Used as a marinade, baste and dipping sauce, the sweet, soy-based tare (pronounced tar-ay; pictured far left) is indispensable in Japanese grilling, and is an essential element of yakitori. It’s typically made by reducing soy sauce with mirin, sake and brown sugar to a thick syrup. Some cooks brighten it with aromatics such as ginger or spring onion, while others add dashi for more umami. It’s fantastic with chicken and much more.
In Catalonia, romesco is traditionally made with mild ñora peppers, but roasted or charred capsicum and tomato, peeled and puréed with the almonds, bread, garlic, sherry vinegar and olive oil, makes a perfectly tasty substitute. The classic pairing for the sauce is calçots, a spring onion little-seen outside Catalonia, but it’s delicious with regular spring onions or leeks cooked over coals. Try it with lightly grilled calamari or a whole fish.