My sister in law is one of those people who is secretly good at things. Maybe it’s because she’s from the south and is therefore more polite than most people, but she totally downplays her abilities. She’s a ringer on the tennis court even though most casual acquaintances don’t even know she plays. Her house looks professionally decorated even though she did it herself, and did it without uttering one word about trips to lighting galleries or fabric showrooms.
And she’s secretly a great cook, too. Every time she invites us over for dinner, she says something like, “It’ll be really casual; we’ll probably just pick up barbecue or make burgers.” And then we show up and she’s made a gorgeous salad, whipped up some heavenly-smelling side dish, and is prepping a trophy fish for the grill. And to put on that fish, she often makes this especially delicious sauce. After swooning over it about five times, I finally asked for the recipe.
Except, of course, there really isn’t a recipe. She basically told me what she puts in it, and what her mother puts in her version, and I fiddled around with it until I got close enough to share this. This sauce is savory and tangy at the same time, and it elevates any piece of fish — whether grilled, broiled, or baked — from a midweek basic to something you could — and should — serve to company. But don’t wait for guests to make this. And don’t leave out the butter; that is one ingredient both southern ladies (politely) insisted upon. I couldn’t agree more.
The only thing even slightly difficult about making this is you need to peel some fresh ginger. I do this with a knife, and you’ll need at least an inch worth from the ginger root. Once the ginger is peeled, you can either mince it finely with a knife or run it over a fine grater or microplane. I especially love this on salmon, but it’s great on halibut and bass, too.
1 tbs. fresh ginger, grated or minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2-3 scallions, finely sliced up to about midway through the light green part
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 pat of butter (1/2 tbs.)
Pinch brown sugar (optional)
Grate the ginger and slice the scallions. In a small skillet, heat the soy sauce over low-medium heat. Add scallions, ginger, and cayenne. Simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Add brown sugar if you want it a bit sweeter. If it seems too strong, add a couple tablespoons of water and continue simmering. Cook fish. Just before serving, add the butter and let it melt in the sauce. Spoon over fish.