Hot & Cold

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Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Nicko's post on the 5 mother sauces brings up my question. Now, I'm a home cook so my question may be entirely out of whack with modern professional cooking.

The concept of sauces seem to focus on cooked sauces. But watching Keller's PBS program on home cooking, he used vinaigrettes to accent many cooked dishes. I've heard arguments to include vinaigrette as a "mother sauce" but they've never got far mostly as they're not cooked. But the compound butter is accepted.

The classic vietnamese table sauce of nuoc cham is very close in concept to a vinaigrette.

It seems to my unprofessional eye this goes back to the classic french brigade with the separation of the cold and hot kitchen duties.

Is this classic division holding back the art of saucing? And where does vinaigrette fit into the scheme of things today?
Joined Apr 7, 2009
There is definitely an argument to be made that vinaigrette should be included in the mother sauces. In fact, vinaigrette-like sauces were common in the Middle Ages for every manner of fish, fowl or flour-footed animal. That being said, I think the hesitation to include them comes from the fact that they are very tenuous emulsions, ready to separate into their components in a heart beat (and, remember, once you add an egg yolk your sauce is no longer a vinaigrette but rather a mayonnaise); you can't boil them or reduce them; and they are aggressive, almost like condiments. If, indeed, a vinaigrette is more condiment-like than like a traditional sauce, it should probably be thought of as a condiment, brushed on foods rather than spooned on them as would be another mother sauce.
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