Years ago I spent a morning with Chef David Lamonica of Scott's Seafood in Folsom, California, learning all about preparing seafood and sauces that work well with seafood.
Of everything we prepared that morning, a simple pan fried haddock with this lemon-garlic butter sauce was the most delectable.
To make the sauce first you combine clam juice (can sub chicken stock), milk, dry sherry, shallots, and garlic. Bring it all to a simmer and let it boil until it has reduced by half.
In a separate pan, make a roux with a tablespoon each of butter and flour. Then add the reduced clam juice sherry mixture to the pot.
It's All About the Butter
After that comes the butter. There's a lot of butter in this sauce which is why it tastes so good! But to incorporate the butter without having the sauce break, you have to do it slowly. Just whisk in a couple tablespoons at a time.
Then stir in some lemon juice, add some salt and white pepper, and you are ready to serve!
The sauce is perfect for fish and seafood, or simply tossed with pasta.
Need to make ahead? Just chill until you need it, and reheat on the stovetop or heat in the microwave for a few seconds until it loosens and warms up.
Lemon-Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood
Use whole milk or cream with water. Do not use low-fat milk or the sauce may curdle.
- 1/2 cup clam juice (can substitute chicken stock)
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1/2 cup whole milk (OR 3 Tbsp cream with 5 Tbsp water)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Season and reduce the liquids:
Place first six ingredients (clam juice, sherry, whole milk, garlic, shallots, bay leaf) in a small saucepan.
Heat on medium high heat and let simmer until the liquids have reduced by about half.
Make a roux:
In a separate saucepan (1-qt minimum) prepare the roux. Heat one tablespoon of butter in the saucepan on medium heat until it is foamy.
Sprinkle in the flour, stirring a couple of minutes with a metal whisk until well mixed (tan, but not browned).
Slowly add liquid mixture to roux:
Slowly add the reduced mixture to the roux, stirring quickly to incorporate. When you first add some of the mixture, the roux will bubble up. Just keep adding the mixture and keep whisking to incorporate.
Incorporate the butter:
Lower the heat to low. Remove the bay leaf. Slowly whisk in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Let the butter tablespoons fully melt and be incorporated into the sauce before adding more tablespoons.
Finish the sauce:
Stir in lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Add some more clam stock or water if the sauce is too thick.