Sautéed scallops and cucumber with a tangerine gastrique. Photo by Stu Spivak | Wikimedia.
Gastrique Reduction Sauce
An Easy Sweet-And-Sour Reduction Sauce For Meat, Poultry & Seafood
CAPSULE REPORT: Learn to make gastrique and you’ll have an easy reduction sauce in your repertoire. This is Page 1 of a two-page article. Click on the black links below to visit Page 2.
If you think sweet-and-sour sauce belongs to Chinese cuisine, you’re only partially correct. It also belongs to French cuisine and Italian cuisine, among others.
The French and Italian sweet-and-sour reduction sauces, known as gastrique and agrodolce, respectively, are lighter and more elegant than the Asian sweet-and-sour sauces found in most American restaurants.
- A gastrique is a classic French reduction sauce made with vinegar and sugar. Gastrique is the French word for “gastric,” pertaining to the stomach, from the Greek word for stomach, “gaster.” While the term first appeared in 1656, the word “gastronomy” wasn’t coined until 1800, when French poet Joseph de Berchoux created it as the title of a poem on good living. The name was an homage to “Gastrologia,” an ancient Greek poem on the same topic. “Gastronomy” entered the English language in 1814.
- The origin of agrodolce is much simpler: Agro is the Italian word for sour/vinegary and dolce is the word for sweet. Hence, agrodolce is a sweet and sour sauce.
Take a look at how to use a gastrique; then turn to the next page for a basic recipe and variations.
Using A Gastrique
A gastrique is a reduction of vinegar or other acid (cider, citrus juice, wine) with sugar, and usually a fruit. A plain gastrique can also serve as a base for other sauces (such as tomato sauce). Some forward-thinking mixologists use a gastrique to add a sweet-and-sour flavor to cocktails.
The sauce is typically served with meat or seafood to add a fruit complement to round out the dish. It begins by caramelizing the sugar over heat, then adding the fruit, then reducing the sauce while adding the vinegar. Some sauces are then served as is; others are strained to remove the fruit pulp and make the sauce clear.
- Sweet Or Savory Gastriques. While a gastrique uses a reasonable amount of sugar, many versions are not particularly sweet. That’s because as sugar caramelizes, its sweetness declines. With the right proportions of sugar and acid, one can produce a savory gastrique.
- Gastrique Without Fruit. Some gastriques are made without fruit. The most prominent example is Harvard beets, a recipe which just uses sugar, water and vinegar, plus spices. As there’s an exception to every rule, sometimes orange juice is added to the recipe.
Continue To Page 2: Gastrique Recipe