Cook book discussing how to make sauces: Sauces by James Peterson

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Sauces by James Peterson
Cookbook

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Sauces was James Peterson's first major book and it certainly made a impression. First released in 1991 this major tome met with immediate acclaim winning a James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year award.
And it is no wonder. Reading this book for the first time reminded us of Escoffier's A Guide to Modern Cookery in its scale and thoroughness. There are literally hundreds of sauce recipes in this encyclopaedic volume. There are times when the divide between stocks and sauces is blurred but usually it is because the stock is used to produce a sauce!
Utensils are addressed first - and this is not a bad thing. If you don't know about all the toys you need to make good stock and sauces then there are solutions for you described in useful detail here.
Then he moves on to ingredients for sauces and here Asian ingredients are placed front and centre - possibly to make up for only forty pages of this massive volume being devoted to Asian sauces. We often declaim about the lack of attention paid to Asian cuisine by Western authors, especially given that we have had some of the best experiences with dipping sauces in Asia.
Whether it be nam jim, a simple red or black vinegar or the judicious use of one of the many different types of fish sauce that are found throughout Asia these experiences deserve to be documented and to gain their rightful place alongside béchamel and hollandaise and gribiche.
Peterson keeps falling into the trap of calling Thai sauces 'simple'. Possibly this is because they are assembled rather than cooked. However the construction of a nam jim is anything but simple as it relies on a sophisticated assessment of the balance of sweet, sour and salt that is vital to the proper appreciation of this complex cuisine. We would prefer to defer to the work of David Thompson in this area where even the apparently most simple dish receives many pages of explanation with regards to both ingredients and technique.
Another example is the fact that tahini is mentioned and briefly described, but no recipes for some of the wonderful tahini sauces of the complex Middle Eastern cuisines such as those of Lebanon and Iran are provided.
Despite this, as soon as he approaches the more traditional fare such as bechamel he is in his element. A sequence of photos and an excellent explanation eases the way to the preparation of this basic sauce.
We then move on to equally beautiful descriptions of veloute, andalouse, mayonnaise, béarnaise, choron, bigarade and then at the end of the photo essay - a caramel cream sauce.
The book then continues the journey visiting green peppercorn sauce, sauce bordelaise, poivrade sauce, sauce newburg, meuniere and even ravigote. Even pasta sauces are described
So we can highly recommend this tour of mainly western sauces which sometimes detours into the serious cuisines of Thailand, the Middle East and China without fully embracing them.
 
     
   
     


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