Apr 27, 2013


Hawaiian Star Fruit in Mango-Orange Sauce
When I think of tropical sauces, my mind tastes pineapple, mango and coconut milk with hints of cinnamon, and ginger, flavors that are typical of Hawaii. No matter where you live, everyone loves sauces, but how many of you know how to make them. In cooking school it was one of the first things they taught us, how to make the five "mother sauces". In the culinary arts, the term "mother sauce" refers to any one of five basic sauces, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces or "small sauces." The five mother sauces are Béchamel Sauce, Velouté Sauce, Espagnole Sauce, Hollandaise Sauce, and Tomato Sauce. I won't go into how to make these sauces, but if you want to know, visit this site for recipes for mother sauces and small sauces.

What I am interested in are TROPICAL SAUCES, sauces that cooks use in tropical cuisine. Sauces for not only savory dishes, but also for desserts. So what is a sauce? A sauce is essentially a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients. A TROPICAL sauce then would be a tropical flavored liquid plus some sort of thickening agent with other tropical ingredients. Naturally if the sauce is tropical, then the dish will be also, so problem solved, or is it? Tropical sauces vary depending on where they are created. If you live in the Caribbean, savory tropical sauces tend to be on the spicy side. If you live in Hawaii, savory tropical sauces tend to take on an Asian flavor. I have put together a variety of what I consider to be tropical sauces and what they might go on, tropical sauces that everyone can enjoy, even if you don't live on a tropical island.

Savory Tropical Sauce Recipes:

Oysters on the Half Shell
with Passion Fruit Mignonette Sauce 

The difference in flavor and texture amongst oysters comes from where they come from. Local salinity, nutrients, temperature, and trace minerals all have an influence, much like they do with wine. Kumamotos, my favorite, are prized by half-shell connoisseurs for their buttery texture and sweet fruity flavor. This tropical mignonette sauce recipe perfectly compliments the small, deeply cupped Kumamoto oyster by adding floral and sweet notes, yet still allows the delicate briny flavor of the oyster to shine.

36 Kumamoto oysters on the half shell
1 lemon, juice only
1 lime, juice only
1/2 cup olive oil
2 passion fruit, cut in half, pulp scraped out with seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
crushed ice for presentation
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve

Place all the ingredients, except the oysters and lime wedges, into a small bowl and mix well, cover and refrigerate. Carefully open the oysters using an oyster shucker by loosening the muscle from bottom shell, removing top shell. Arrange oysters on a large, deep serving plate filled with crushed ice. To serve, spoon a teaspoon of the passion fruit mignonette sauce over each oyster and garnish with lime wedges. Makes 6 servings of 6 oysters.

Shrimp in Spicy Coconut Sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the garlic until fragrant. Stir in coconut milk, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and return to a simmer without boiling. Add cooked shrimp and heat through. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Chile Sauce
1 cup Asian sweet chile sauce* (preferably Mae Ploy brand)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh hot chile (such as Thai or serrano, preferably red), including seeds

Stir together sauce ingredients in a bowl until just combined. Chill, covered. Makes 1 1/2 cups. Great used on Chinese spring rolls or Filipino lumpia. Also great on fried shrimp, or fish.

Pele's Hot Sauce
If Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, uses this sauce, you know it's hot!

1 cup of fresh mango
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh pineapple.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 7 limes)
4 cloves garlic
12 jalapenos cut in half. Leave the seeds in if you like it hotter
4 habaneros cut in half. Again leave the seeds in if you like it hot
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar

Saute garlic in a bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes just until it softens a bit. Mix all of the prepared peppers, mango, pineapple, salt and sugar. Put all of the ingredients above into the pan and mix in the vinegar and lime juice. Bring to a boil, lower to a slight simmer and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then place the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Funnel the blended sauce into sterilized jars. Process the canning jars in a water bath or pressure canner to seal the jars for storage. Makes 4 cups. This sauce is for people who like hot sauce to be hot. Great in a bloody mary, over scrambled eggs, or whatever you use hot sauce on now...but with a tropical twist.

Tropical BBQ Sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup oyster sauce (you can find it in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon Colman's Dry Mustard
1 tablespoon Wright's Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lilikoi juice (passion fruit juice)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (minced)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons honey (add more if you like your sauce a little sweeter)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (add more if you like your sauce a little more tart)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (you can find it in the Asian section of your grocery store)
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, stir all of the ingredients together except the salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes for the flavors to blend. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce is great on grilled food, chicken, ribs, even shrimp. Makes 3 cups.

Thai Mango Sauce
2 ripe mangoes (see below for mango tips)
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
4 tablespoons good-quality (thick) coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce (available in most supermarkets in the Asian section)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili (from the spice aisle)

Peel and cut mango and place in a food processor, or blender. Add all other ingredients. Process well to create a delicious mango sauce. Tip: Avoid over-processing, as you don't want it too runny. If you prefer chunks of mango in your sauce, just pulse to create the sauce until you're happy with the consistency. Do a taste-test. Depending on the ripeness/sweetness of your mango, you may have to add a little more sugar. Add more fish sauce for more flavor, or more chili for more spice. What you want is a balance of sweet, salty, and spicy. Use as a marinade/sauce for grille chicken, pork, fish, or seafood.

Linguine in Lemon Cream Sauce 
8 ounces dry linguine
1/2 cup light cream cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cook linguine according to package directions in pot of boiling salted water. Warm cream cheese, oil, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in saucepan over low heat. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Stir reserved cooking water into cream cheese mixture. Add pasta, lemon zest, and parsley; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Tangy Mango Glaze
This bitter-sweet-tangy glaze is great brushed over grilled or roasted pork, or chicken. Just before the meat is cooked, brush on the mango glaze and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the glaze is slightly sticky and golden. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

1/2 large mango, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (1 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste*
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a blender, combine the mango chunks with the sugar, tamarind paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and crushed red pepper and puree until smooth. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mango puree, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. *Note: Tamarind paste, a tart, seedless paste, is available at Middle Eastern, Indian, and some Asian markets. Tamarind is also used in the manufacturing of ketchup, and sauces like Worcestershire, Barbecue, etc. It is also very effective as a natural preservative and marinade. Usually tamarind paste is mixed with water and strained, the resulting tamarind juice being what's used. Makes 1 cup.

Wasabi-Passion Fruit Honey Mustard Sauce
This is a hot, sweet, tangy and pungent mustard sauce for grilled shrimp or oysters.

3 fresh passion fruit, juiced, including seeds
2 tablespoons Wasabi powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons honey
1 green onion, white and part of green, finely minced
salt to taste

Split passion fruit in half and scrape seed and juice into a blender. Pulse once or twice. Strain and return juice to clean blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend. cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

Salsa Roja
This kind of salsa is called salsa roja or red sauce. It's very much like the tex-mex salsa you get at your favorite Mexican restaurant. If you've never had homemade salsa then you must give this a try.

1 can (28 ounces.) Muir Glen organic fire roasted
crushed tomatoes
1 can (4 ounces) green chilies. I like Ortega brand.
2 jalapeno, seeded and diced.
1 bulb of garlic, roasted.
a pinch of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste.
cayenne to taste depending on how hot you like it.
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup hand diced sweet yellow onion
1/3 cup cilantro or to taste, chopped, no stems

Heat oven to 375˚F. Cut top off bulb of garlic. Place foil under bulb and drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Squeeze garlic into food processor. After you get all that garlic in the food processor, add the fire roasted tomatoes, the canned green chilies, the jalapeno peppers, the pinch of cumin, the salt, and the sugar. Pulse just one or two times to get things mixed. When you feel you have the consistency the way you like it, stop. Pour the salsa into your bowl and stir in the diced onion and cilantro. Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour or more so those flavors can mingle. Note: You can cook the salsa for 15 minutes on the stove if you like. This results in a more saucy type of salsa like you might find in restaurants. Makes about 1 quart.

Dessert Tropical Sauce Recipes:

Hawaiian Star Fruit in Mango-Orange Sauce
The star fruit is a tropical winter fruit that is gaining popularity in the United States. It has a complex flavor combination that includes plums, pineapples, and lemons, (see photo above).

4 ripe star fruit
1 cup fresh orange juice
the fruit of 1 fresh ripe mango
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup good-quality coconut milk
fresh pomegranate seeds or maraschino cherries, halved

Cut star fruit into 1/4-inch thick star slices (count out 3 slices per person) set aside. Place the mango fruit in a food processor, or blender. Process or blend until it is smooth and pureed. Place mango puree in a pot with orange juice and sugar, and turn heat to high until juice begins to boil. Then turn down to low. Add sliced star fruit and allow to simmer for 10 or 12 minutes, or until fruit has softened. Remove pot from heat.

Do a taste-test for sweetness, adding more sugar if needed (how sweet it is will depend on the ripeness of the fruit/juice you're using). If it happens to be too sweet for your taste, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, or a little more orange juice.

When you're happy with the taste, portion out 3 star fruit slices per bowl with enough sauce to surround the fruit (it should still be warm from the pot). Top each bowl with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds or cherry halves. Then drizzle over some coconut milk and serve immediately! Makes 4 servings.

Note: As an elegant variation on this recipe, bake your favorite spice cake or rum cake in a cake pan or sheet pan. When cooked, cut out 3” circles of cake with a round cookie cutter. Place cake rounds in the middle of the warm mango sauce (recipe above) and top with one star fruit slice and a cherry half or pomegranate seeds plus a drizzle of coconut milk around the cake.

Rum Butter Dessert Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons dark rum

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and salt in medium bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add rum and beat until well blended. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. This sauce is great poured over crepes, cake, or ice cream piled high with a combination of tropical fruit such as pineapple, mango, and papaya. Makes enough for 2 servings.

Coconut Scones with Passion Fruit Curd
These scones are great plain, but are even better with passion fruit curd. The combination of the coconut and passion fruit makes for a wonderful tropical treat.

Ingredients for Passion Fruit Curd:
2/3 cup strained, fresh passion fruit juice (8 large passion fruit)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons passion fruit seeds and pulp

Starting with fresh passion fruit, cut them in half and spoon the pulp out. Strain the fruit pulp to get all the juice out. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the seeds and pulp. In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and passion fruit juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot sugar syrup into the egg. Beat until very smooth, then pour through a strainer and back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd comes to a boil and is thick. Remove from heat and stir in reserved seeds. Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge. Chill completely before serving over coconut scones. Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Ingredients for Coconut Scones:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 6-8 pieces
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
approximately 1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse sand. A few larger bits are ok, but most should be smaller than a pea. Stir in shredded coconut. Add in about 1/3 cup of coconut milk and stir into dough with a fork. Add remaining coconut milk as needed until dough comes together into a shaggy ball. Knead lightly with your hand until dough is smooth. Divide dough in to two balls and press each into a disc about 1/2-inch thick on prepared baking sheet. Cut each disc into quarters and separate slightly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until scones are a light golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack before topping with passion fruit curd. Makes 8 scones.

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