If you love tart, lemony sauces, sorrel sauce is one of the greatest renditions there is. This is a classic sorrel sauce inspired by the legendary saumon à l'oseille, a classic recipe of French Nouvelle Cuisine from the 1960's-70s.
The sauce was invented by the Troisgros brothers at their restaurant in Roanne, France. Over the years the brothers created thousands of recipes at their 3-star Michelin restaurant, but saumon à l'oseille stands apart from them all. I've adapted the original version here to be easier to make at home.
What is Sorrel Sauce?
Mostly known as a French sauce, this is a cream-based sauce with a tart, lemony flavor that's perfect for light proteins, especially fatty fish like salmon and lake trout. Besides fish, it's also incredible used to sauce potato dumplings and ravioli.
Besides the French version, there's also Jamaican sorrel sauce which is typically includes water, allspice, orange juice, and sugar. I suspect Jamaican sorrel sauce was brought from West Africa as they have traditions of cooking plants in the hibiscus family similarly, which also have a sour flavor.
There's a number of sorrels you can use to make the sauce. Garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is the most traditional, and probably the best. Sheep sorrel and wood sorrel can also be used, with sheep sorrel being my favorite between the two.
Wild sorrels like wood sorrel (genus Oxalis) and sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) can be grown easily in a garden, but be aware that the plants can be invasive as they spread by a creeping rhizome system as well as by seed. Both plants can be aggressive, sheep sorrel more than wood sorrel.
How to Make Sorrel Sauce
There's lots of versions online, mine involves making a quick reduction similar to starting a beurre blanc. It's not quite the same as the one the Jean and Pierre Troigros served, but it's so delicious no one will care.
First you reduce fish stock, fumet, or chicken stock and wine with peppercorns, a sliced shallot, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf.
When the sauce is reduced by 75%, you remove the solids and add the cream, butter and sorrel and cook until lightly thickened.
Finally the sauce is finished with fresh lemon zest and a dash of lemon juice to taste. I like to add a handful of fresh sheep sorrel at the end, but you can skip it if you use garden sorrel.
It can be served warm, or at room temperature and is incredible with fish, pork, and poultry.
Classic French Sorrel Sauce
- 1 small sauce pan
- 1 10 inch saute pan
- 2 4 oz filets of salmon
- Sorrel Sauce
- 2 oz sheep sorrel or garden sorrel this is two large handfuls
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 small shallot
- 8 oz 1 cup fish stock, fumet or chicken stock
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ Cup heavy cream
- Finely chop or dice the shallot, then add to a small saucepan with the wine, stock, and bay. Reduce the wine and stock until only half remains, discard the bay or strain it, then add the cream and butter.
- Add the sorrel and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted. Continue reducing until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and quickly saute the salmon if using (skin-side down if applicable) until medium rare, then transfer to a pan and keep warm until ready to plate.
- Double check the seasoning of the sauce for salt and adjust as needed, then spoon the creamed sorrel and its sauce around the fish. Garnish with a few extra sheep sorrel leaves and cut chives and serve immediately.