Snap peas with Finnadenni sauce

As Spring sun graces my porch I can’t help but to look forward to days of grilling, quick cool salads and the lighter fare that I’ve craved all winter. One of the great secrets to year-round grilling and something that comes in even more handy as the weather warms is a few great sauces to accompany both your meat and veggie dishes.

There are about three sauces that are always around my house. One is pesto, and this doesn’t necessarily mean basil-based pesto either. I’ve mentioned it before, but you can make pesto out of just about anything. Arugula pesto is one of our favorites and is wonderful spread on bread, tossed in with steamed veggies or pasta, or as a quick marinade for grillables, but pesto can also be made from kale, chard, and in the Argentinian version, parsley.

Which is number two –  chimichurri, the Argentinian pistou, is much like pesto but is a little more sauce like. Primarily used as a dipping sauce perfect for kebabs, or drizzled over rice it is primarily made of parsley and cilantro and the rest is vinegar, herbs and spices. If you haven’t tried it yet you should whip it up for your next barbecue. It is guaranteed to be a hit.

The last sauce is called finadenni, or fina’denne depending on where you look. This is another dipping sauce that goes well with fish. My college roommate was from Guam and told me this was an essential part of a fisherman’s toolbox. When they caught a good sized fish they would immediately remove it’s cheeks and crack open the finadenni, eating it there on the spot. His version was mainly beer, soy sauce and lime juice, with a few hot Tinian peppers minced in. Delicious on fish, excellent on rice and with a teaspoon of honey and some sesame oil, a great dressing for blanched snap peas.

I’ll also include two other recipes – these ones I got from – and they are my favorite sauces from Benihana. Yes, the tapenyaki bar of almost world renown. My fiance loves these sauces, and every time we go there she raves about them endlessly. So I did a little recipe sleuthing of my own and came up with the following. Their secret revealed!

These sauces are super awesome and go great with meats and vegetables alike. So, as you prep up for warm weather and fire up your grill in celebration of whatever brief glimpse of sun we’re offered, add some of these sauces to your culinary toolkit and you’ll be ready for anything.

Mustard Sauce:
Makes about 2/3 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Oriental mustard (can be found in the international or Asian food sections of most supermarkets)
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For Mustard Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, mustard, cream and garlic powder. Stir or whisk until well combined. Chill before serving.

Ginger Sauce:
Makes about 1/2 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 ounce gingerroot (a nickel-size slice), peeled and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

For Ginger Sauce: In a blender combine the onion, soy sauce, garlic, gingerroot, lemon juice, sugar and white vinegar. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds or until the gingerroot and garlic have been pureed. Chill before serving.

Finadenni Sauce:
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
splash of pilsner or other light beer
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 tomato finely minced
2 red chili peppers, roasted and minced
or 1 habanero pepper, roasted and minced

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit for half hour before serving. For vegetables add 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 t dried red pepper
1/2 t ground cumin

Puree all ingredients in food processor. Add more oil as necessary. Let sit for half hour before serving.