Sauces add a burst of intense flavor to your wild-caught seafood, transforming even a simply cooked fillet of fish into the star of your meal. To help you channel your inner sauce boss, we’ve put together a tight selection of delicious sauces that can easily be mixed and matched with any variety of wild-caught fish for an endless variety of recipe options.
As a bonus, all of these sauces will streamline your time in the kitchen or at the grill; after all, many of them are made from fresh or raw ingredients that are simply stirred together, becoming a flavor bomb that’s tastier than the sum of its parts. In lots of cases, making a sauce will barely require more time than it takes to cut a lemon into wedges.
For dipping, dunking and drizzling, here are some seafood-friendly sauces that you’ll want to have in your culinary arsenal.
Halfway between a sauce and a dip, tzatziki is a cool contrast to seafood that’s been charred on the grill. This cucumber-herb tzatziki made from Greek yogurt pulls all of the ingredients in Feasting at Home’s wild salmon bowl together — grilled salmon and veggies, quinoa, greens — and is the major flavor component that you’re adding to the dish. As a thick sauce, it also helps to bind the ingredients together so that you can enjoy hearty spoonfuls of the dish. It’s great to use with skewers and wraps.
Another sauce that works nicely with grilled seafood is a sweet and tangy nuoc cham, a classic Vietnamese sauce that you can use as both a dip and dressing. Despite its watery consistency, nuoc cham is full of flavor and will bring your seafood to life in vermicelli noodle bowls, summer rolls, and Vietnamese-inspired stir-fries.
As a substantial alternative, peanut sauce works well with summer rolls. But peanut sauce also can dress up a noodle bowl like this one from Jeff Mauro, made with broiled salmon and ramen noodles. If you’re making this noodle bowl, cut the broil time down to 5 minutes so that you’re not overcooking your fillets of wild salmon. Or, just drizzle the sauce onto a fillet of fish over a bed of steamed rice for a simple yet satisfying meal.
Usually made with a mix of tender green herbs, shallots, and an acidic component like lemon juice or red wine vinegar — chimichurri is an easy sauce to use with a meaty fillet or skewers of grilled fish. But as The Kitchn suggests, you could also brush a bit of chimichurri onto fillets of fish, bake them, then serve with extra chimichurri on the side.
A proper brown butter sauce is a simple yet elegant way to dress a pan-seared fillet of salmon or halibut. You won’t be using the butter to cook the fish, since butter’s smoke point is too low for searing. Rather, you will make brown butter separately, carefully melting butter over low heat so that its milk solids caramelize rather than burn, and then add in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to give the sauce balance. This dish from the Cooking Channel drizzles brown butter over seared fillets of halibut, while Bon Appetit elevates brown butter with the addition of toasted hazelnuts.
Teriyaki sauce is best used in recipes where you’re using high heat, since the sugars within the sauce will caramelize and thicken into a sweet and savory glaze. This recipe from Rachel Ray in Season uses a homemade teriyaki sauce — made with soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, ginger, and garlic — to baste the fillets of salmon as they grill, infusing them with flavor and caramelizing into a glaze. There should be plenty of teriyaki sauce leftover to serve as a dipping sauce on the side. Note: If you’re going to make this recipe, make sure you cut down the grill time to 5 or 6 minutes so that your wild salmon fillets don’t overcook.
So simple to make, a mustard sauce is usually a mixture of dijon, herbs, and something like white wine or lemon juice. Use it on anything grilled, baked, or broiled. It becomes a bright sauce for seared halibut and a dressing for a lentil salad in this recipe from Real Simple, drizzled on right at the end. Similarly, Martha Stewart’s herbed mustard sauce is spooned over broiled or grilled fillets of salmon, with the only addition being a bit of lemon juice squeezed onto the fish before cooking.