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Transforming Seasonings into Sauces

Transforming Seasonings into Sauces

We’re feeling saucy. Now you might be thinking, Savory is all about dry spices—so how do we make those… saucy? Well actually, many of our seasonings are based or inspired by the flavors of classic sauces. Buffalo Wing Dry Sauce, Mexican Mole, and Parmesan Pesto are just a few examples.

Because we’ve successfully reverse-engineered sauces into seasonings, it stands to reason that a majority (if not all) of our seasonings could be transformed into flavorful sauces. This means your spice cabinets are full of even more possibilities than you may have realized!

We decided to put our California Citrus Rub, Chimichurri Dry Marinade, and Jamaican Jerk Seasoning to the test and show you how easy it can be to make quick and flavor-packed sauces—all with ingredients you probably already have.

Don’t Waste It, Paste It

If you’ve ever poured a cup of hot milk over cocoa mix in a mug, you’re probably familiar with the issue that arises: the cocoa powder clumps up, rises to the top, and it takes a whole lot of vigorous whisking to get those clumps to turn into drinkable hot chocolate. More often than not, you end up with a texturally challenged cup of cocoa that has spilled over the sides and created a mess. Not exactly a comforting experience.

Here’s a pro tip: the first step for getting smooth distribution of a powder into a liquid is to make it into a paste.

If you use the following method you’ll end up with a creamy, smooth cup of hot cocoa every time. Mix cocoa powder and sugar (or the sweetener of your choice) in a mug, top it with an equal amount of hot milk, and mix it into a paste at the bottom of the mug before you stir in your remaining milk. I know the hot chocolate is a bit of a sidebar, but this is the same principle that we’ll be using to create our sauces. So let’s get to it!

Paste Making 101

The basic formula that I use whenever I’m converting a dry spice or seasoning into a paste for cooking is quite simple: equal parts spice, oil, and water. This helps bring out both the water- and oil-soluble flavor compounds for you to build on. You can use broth, juice, or any other liquid instead of water if you’d like, and if you want to eliminate or reduce the oil, just substitute the same amount of liquid. The paste will be thinner in viscosity, but it will still do the trick.

You’ll note in the sauce recipes below that we suggest that you make it and set it aside for five minutes or so. This is to give the dehydrated spices enough time to rehydrate—for two reasons.

First, the essential oils in spices are activated when liquid is applied to them, which will help give you the best flavored sauce.

Secondly (and perhaps more importantly) since we’ve added oil to our spice paste or we will be cooking in oil, components like minced garlic or onion can easily burn in a hot pan. It can happen in seconds, so giving the paste time to rehydrate can be the difference in having to start over and a flavorful finished sauce.

Building the Sauces

Now that we have our spice pastes, we’re ready to build our sauces. These three seasonings are quite versatile, so the sauces they make could go in many directions. But feel free to use the same principles and techniques with your favorite seasoning blend.

California Citrus Grilling Sauce

Our California Citrus Rub is a salt-free blend that’s heavy on the citrus (hence the name) and a bit spicy from the combination of crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. It could easily be taken in a spicy, bold direction, but the seasoning’s flavor is also an ideal match for grilled seafood or chicken. We're starting with a flavor that is a little more family friendly. This is a lighter, herby sauce that highlights the citrus notes of the blend and knocks back that spiciness a touch. Orange juice and a bit of butter provides body while honey beats back the heat. Lastly, parsley (the most useful fresh herb of all IMO) brings herby harmony to this grilling sauce.

California Citrus Grilling Sauce Recipe

For the paste:

1 Tbsp. California Citrus Rub
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. water

For the sauce:

1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. soy sauce
salt, to taste (optional)

 

Directions: In a small bowl, stir paste ingredients together thoroughly and set aside for 5 min. to allow spices to rehydrate. Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is warmed, add paste along with remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 min., or until the sauce is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

 

Chimichurri Steak Sauce

Most traditional Argentinian chimichurris are delicate herb-based sauces that are served as a side for anything from grilled meats to flavor-packed empanadas. Our Chimichurri Dry Marinade seasoning, was inspired by an old Argentinian cookbook shared by a former employee (thanks Erin!).

It has the flavor of sweet tomato and bell pepper balanced with aromatic garlic, bittersweet Aleppo chiles, earthy cumin, and fragrant herbs. We’ve always recommended it for marinating steak... so why not make a steak sauce, one with a balsamic twist? Adding ketchup and Dijon mustard for body, our carefully crafted 60-day bottle aged Worcestershire Sauce for umami notes, and finishing it with the spice paste rounds out the flavor of this steak sauce recipe.

Chimichurri Steak Sauce Recipe

For the paste:

1 Tbsp. Chimichurri Dry Marinade
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. water

For the sauce:

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper, to taste


Directions: In a small bowl, stir paste ingredients together thoroughly and set aside for 5 min. to allow spices to rehydrate. Add paste along with remaining sauce ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 min., or until the sauce is thickened and aromatic.

 

Jerk Spiced Coconut Sauce

One of the most common questions we hear is, “What’s your favorite seasoning?”. It’s never an easy question to answer (I imagine it’s like a parent picking their favorite kid). Savory Spice co-founder Mike Johnston will always say that our Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is one of his all-time faves. "We went all the way to Jamaica to perfect this seasoning and jerk chicken is easily the dish I make the most at my home."

Jerk seasoning is an onion-based blend with a nice spicy kick from scotch bonnet chiles. It’s the sweet-spiced allspice that makes this seasoning so magical though. Coconut rice is a great side for jerk chicken and that was the inspiration for this final sauce. Coconut milk cools the spiciness of the jerk and pineapple and lime juice brighten it up. This sauce is a great to serve with grilled shrimp or pork kabobs too. 

Jerk Spiced Coconut Sauce Recipe

For the paste:

1 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. water

For the sauce:

6 Tbsp. coconut milk
3 Tbsp. pineapple juice or orange juice
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar


Directions: In a small bowl, stir paste ingredients together thoroughly and set aside for 5 min. to allow spices to rehydrate. Add paste along with remaining sauce ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 min., or until the sauce is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.


Try more saucy recipes, or tell us about your own sauce creations! 

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Comments

Stephanie - January 28, 2022

Our recommendation is to use 1 heaping tbsp. per cup of heated milk and sweeten as needed (start with 1-2 tsp and add more as desired). The Black Onyx Cocoa Powder is pretty bold, so you might try mixing it with Dutch or Natural Cocoa Powder for a rich cup of hot chocolate.

Karen - January 28, 2022

How much black onyx to make the chocolate paste for 1 cup of hot chocolate?

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