Sauces from around the world

By US Desk
Fri, 11, 22

Now, let’s learn about some of the famous sauces from around the world …


The word ‘sauce’ derives from the Latin word salsus, meaning salt – the first type of flavouring we ever used. Let’s face it: your food is nothing without salt! Meat, vegetables and grains can be pretty bland on their own, which is why salt was used to boost natural flavours. Sauces, however, are much more complex than just simple flavourings like salt, pepper or sugar. They provide a pleasant mouthfeel to foods, give food more flavour, lend moisture and also give an attractive appearance to any dish. But when exactly did we start making proper sauces?

The first record (or recipe) of a sauce, is dated back to 25 BC. It’s a poem that describes a farmer making a sauce of sorts, by pounding herbs, cheese, vinegar and oil – you could say it was the great-great-grandfather of the modern pesto! A little later, a Roman recipe book featured more than a hundred different recipes for sauces.

By medieval times, not much changed in terms of the basic sauce recipe. Finely ground ingredients were still used, together with spices as seasoning, but now meat and vegetables could also be added to a sauce. Later on, as more trade routes developed, flavourings became more exotic. Now cooks included Asian-inspired spices like cinnamon and ginger. In addition to the mortar and pestle (for grinding nuts and seeds), the cloth sieve also started to become a popular item to make smooth sauces.

In China, soy sauces have been used for 2000 years. In India, a type of sauce thickened with spices was used in various dishes. Even the Mexican salsa can be classified as a type of sauce. But the place where sauces really started to become an art form, was France. Today, we have more than 1500 different types of sauces. And for some chefs and foodies, a meal without a sauce is simply incomplete. Now, let’s learn about some of the famous sauces from around the world …

Chimichurri (Argentina)

Sauces from around the world

Chimichurri is a vibrant green typically served alongside grilled steaks. It is an aromatic mixture of parsley, garlic, oregano, olive oil, vinegar, and hot red pepper flakes.

There are two theories about the origin of the name–one says that it was invented (and aptly named) by a British meat dealer called Jimmy Curry, and the other one says that it stems from the phrase “che mi curry”, spoken by captive English soldiers who requested to eat curry after their unsuccessful attempt to invade Argentina, a Spanish colony at the time.

The origin of the name may be unknown, but it is a known fact that chimichurri will spark up any dish that it is added to.

Bechamel (France)

Sauces from around the world

One of the five mother sauces of traditional French cuisine and a key ingredient in numerous recipes – from simple dishes like lasagna to elegant ones such as soufflé – Béchamel sauce, also known as white sauce, is nothing more than roux-thickened milk.

It was invented for Louis XIV by his chef, Pierre de la Varenne, whose 17th-century cookbook Le Cuisinier françois is home to the first recorded Béchamel recipe.

As milk was considered a luxury at the time, Béchamel was often associated with wealth. The invention of refrigeration and pasteurization made milk affordable and more easily available to the common man.

Sambal (Indonesia)

Sauces from around the world

Usually, sambal is made only with spicy chili peppers and salt. It is occasionally adapted with lime juice, onions, sugar, ginger, shrimp paste, or vinegar. Traditionally prepared in a mortar, it is characterized by its thick consistency and an incredibly strong and sharp flavour. Sambal is used in a variety of Asian dishes, usually as a spicy condiment, seasoning, or a topping served alongside meat, seafood, vegetables, or rice.

Tzatziki (Greece)

Sauces from around the world

Tzatziki is a Greek concoction made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and numerous herbs and spices such as dill, mint, or parsley. It is usually served as a cold sauce accompanying many meat dishes, as a simple dip, or an appetizer. Its name is derived from the Turkish word cacik, denoting a very similar dip, although some suspect that tzatziki was derived from the Indian raita dip.

Henry Bain (USA)

Sauces from around the world

Named after Henry Bain, the legendary manager at the famous Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, this sauce was a favourite accompaniment to various game meat dishes. Today, it typically accompanies beef steaks and meatballs, but it can also be spread over cream cheese and served as an appetizer.

This rich, tangy sauce consists of tomato sauce, vinegar, sweet chutney, and pickled walnuts, along with a variety of other spices and seasonings.

Toum (Lebanon)

Sauces from around the world

Toum is an authentic Lebanese garlic paste. It is made with whole garlic cloves, which are slowly crushed using a mortar and pestle or nowadays, simply ground in a food processor.

During this process, oil is gently added to create a homogeneous garlic paste with an unusual, fluffy texture.

Finally, salt and lemon juice are added to the mix, giving the paste a salty flavour and ivory color. Toum is used for marinades, sauces, and dips, and can enrich any meal especially roasted and barbecued meat.

This delightful, pungent garlic spread and its adaptations can also be found in eastern Mediterranean countries, Egypt, and Iraq.

Marie Rose sauce (UK)

Sauces from around the world

Marie Rose sauce is a British sauce that’s usually made with a combination of mayonnaise, lemon juice, black pepper, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. There’s also a much simpler version consisting only of ketchup and mayonnaise, and it’s popular in Ireland, where it’s often called burger sauce.

The sauce is traditionally used as an accompaniment to seafood, especially prawns. It was invented in 1960 by Fanny Cradock, a British cook.

Chocolate gravy (America)

Sauces from around the world

Thicker than fudge sauce, but thinner than chocolate pudding, chocolate gravy is typically made with cocoa powder, sugar, flour, milk, and fat (usually butter). It is especially popular in the Southern United States, where the gravy is served with fresh biscuits on Sunday mornings.

It is called gravy because any sauce thickened by a roux and made in a skillet was called a gravy, whether savoury or sweet.

Piri piri sauce (Angola)

Sauces from around the world

Piri piri or peri peri sauce has been around for a long time, since the 15th century when the Portuguese settlers in Angola and Mozambique used bird’s eye chili peppers and combined them with red wine vinegar, paprika, garlic and other imports from Europe.

Nowadays, the sauce is equally popular in countries such as South Africa, Canada and Australia. The most commonly found ingredients in piri-piri sauce are lemon, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, paprika, and oil, but it’s not uncommon to also see tarragon, citrus peel, oregano and other ingredients.

Marinara (Italy)

Sauces from around the world

Marinara is a red sauce consisting of olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs. Due to its simplicity, marinara acts as a versatile base for many Italian dishes. It originated in Naples in southern Italy, its name derived from the Italian word for sailors (marinai). Some say it was named after the sailors because marinara’s ingredients didn’t spoil easily, and the sauce could be prepared quickly, in about the same time it took pasta to cook, so the two made a flavorful and cheap meal for sailors on their voyages.

By the early 1900s, marinara became a classic in the United States of America as well, due to a large number of Italian immigrants. Today, it is commonly served hot with pasta such as ziti, linguini, or spaghetti.