This garlic butter sauce for seafood is based on a classic French beurre blanc sauce.
Shallots and garlic are simmered in white wine and vinegar, then cream and butter are added to make a rich and thick, velvety sauce.
Delicious served with simply poached fish or fried shellfish as part of an elegant meal or an informal fish buffet.
Beurre blanc is a classic French sauce, made from a permanent emulsion.
In food, an emulsion takes place when two ingredients, such as a water based item like vinegar, is mixed with another ingredient that it wouldn't normally mix with. Typically, this is oil or butter oil or butter.
An emulsion may be temporary, like a vinaigrette, where the oil and vinegar, or lemon juice are mixed together by shaking, but will gradually separate if they are left after a period of time.
Mayonnaise is a permanent emulsion of egg yolks, vinegar and oil, as once the egg yolks have combined with the oil, it is stable enough to hold its shape.
This garlic butter sauce for seafood, or beurre blanc, is a relatively new sauce, not part of the French mother sauces. It actually originated in the city of Nantes, in the north of France, and is often known as beurre Nantaise.
It's slightly sweet and creamy flavour makes it a perfect partner for fish and seafood, or a dipping sauce for prawns or shrimps.
Of course, garlic isn't a traditional ingredient, but it really adds extra depth to the sauce.
❤️ Why you will love this dish
- Delicious with all fish and seafood.
- Easy to customise the flavours.
- Simple to make.
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- Butter - salted or unsalted, just adjust any extra seasoning salt before serving. The butter should be cold and cut into cubes. Keep it in the fridge until required.
- Salt - flaked sea salt or kosher salt.
- Pepper - often, black pepper isn't used in creamy sauces so that it can keep its appearance, so use ground white pepper to achieve this.
- Shallots - if possible, use the long banana shallots. They are easier to peel than the smaller, round ones.
- Garlic - garlic cloves
- Cream - heavy or double cream to create the thick sauce.
- Wine - a dry white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay.
- Vinegar - white wine vinegar.
- To peel shallots easily, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them for 5 minutes then remove one by one to peel with a slotted spoon. Slice off the root end and the skin should slide off.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found at the bottom of the article.
- small saucepan
- chopping board
- sharp knife
Peel the garlic and shallots and chop finely.
Put the chopped garlic and shallot in a saucepan with the wine and vinegar.
⏲️ Cooking time
Put the saucepan over a medium heat and bring the liquid to a simmer.
Cook until just over a tablespoon of the liquid remains then turn the heat down to low.
Whisk in the cream.
Add in a few cubes of butter and whisk quickly until it is thoroughly incorporated.
Add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time and whisk continuously as it melts.
When you have just a few pieces left, turn off the heat completely and whisk the remaining butter in.
The sauce will be creamy and thick.
At this stage you can pass the mixture through a sieve for a smooth sauce if you prefer.
Season the sauce to taste before serving.
The sauce will thicken as it loses temperature.
Keep it fluid in a double boiler or bain marie for up to an hour to serve warm.
🥗 Serve with
Serve with baked, steamed or poached fish or try serving with one of these seafood dishes
- Shallots - use a sweet onion, (but not red, as it will tinge the sauce pink).
- Beurre rouge - or red butter sauce. Replace the white wine and vinegar with red wine and red wine vinegar.
- Herbs - add a tablespoon of fresh dill, tarragon or basil, as they all go well with fish and seafood.
- Refrigerator - store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to a week and use as a flavoured butter on cooked vegetables
- Freezer - freeze in containers for up to 6 months.
- To reheat - not advised, due to the probability of the sauce splitting.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- The sauce should really be served warm and freshly made. It's possible to keep it warm in a bain marie, whisking occasionally for up to an hour before serving. The sauce must not get too hot or it will split.
- If the sauce becomes too cold it may be difficult to warm it without splitting.
Although there are many different sauces, made in different ways, there are essentially 6 French sauces, from which most other sauces are made.
Originally, the were 4 sauces and, depending on your source, some people insist there are now 7 sauces.
Each sauce can also have daughter sauces, where extra ingredients are added to the basic sauce.
Béchamel sauce - often more commonly known as a white sauce made with a roux of flour and butter cooked together.
It is typically used in lasagne, macaroni cheese, pies or served with vegetables.
The daughter sauces include mornay, which is a cheese sauce, delicious with fish and cauliflower cheese and also sauce soubise, otherwise known as onion sauce, which is delicious with meats, especially lamb.
Mayonnaise sauce - this sauce is an emulsion of oil, egg yolks and an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice.
It's creamy with a slight tang. Very often, French mayonnaise has mustard added to it for colour and flavour, which gives an added dimension, without tasting strong.
It's delicious on salads, sandwiches, such as coronation chicken, with seafood and for dipping chips.
A popular daughter sauce is tartar sauce which is typically served with fish and has the addition of capers and cornichons
Velouté sauce - this sauce is very much like béchamel, except the milk is replaced by stock made from bones.
It is typically served with chicken or seafood dishes.
Suprême sauce is a daughter sauce that is used in the classic dish of chicken supreme, where cream is added to the sauce.
Espagnole sauce - this sauce is more commonly known as brown sauce. It's made with brown stock, which is actually beef stock, with the addition of a mirepoix, (mixture of carrots, onions and celery), and tomato pureé.
This is a rich sauce, which is usually made into a daughter sauce, such as demi-glace, where is it combined with more stock.
It is normally served with meat, and is a more tasty version of the common gravy used on a roast dinner.
The most well known daughter sauce is Bourguignonne, where the sauce is enhanced with a bouquet garni and Burgundy red wine.
Tomato sauce - this is a thick and rich sauce simmered with with tomatoes, stock and a roux.
It is typically served with pasta dishes.
The most famous daughter sauce is Bolognaise, where the carrots, onions and celery are cooked as a base for flavour with minced beef.
Hollandaise sauce - this sauce is another emulsion like mayonnaise but this time it is made with butter and egg yolks.
The name hollandaise lterally means Dutch style, as the Dutch used a large amount of butter incooking.
It's the sauce used to top poached egg is eggs benedict, and is often served with fish, chicken, asparagus and other vegetables.
Béarnaise sauce is a daughter sauce with the addition of tarragon and shallots infused in wine and vineagar. It is particularly good with beef dishes but it is also delicious with chicken.
A bain marie is also known as a double boiler.
Essentially, it is a way of heating or cooking food indirectly. The steam from barely simmering water provides a gently heat that is much easier to control for delicate ingredients.
Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or 2 centimetres of water.
Bring the water to a simmer and place a heatproof bowl on top. A clear glass bowl is best for this.
You will need a heatproof bowl that can sit snugly in the saucepan so that it doesn't actually touch the water.
Follow the recipe to cook or warm the ingredients and be careful that the water doesn't burn dry or boil.
More French sauces to try
Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood
- small saucepan
- chopping board
- sharp knife
- 100 g butter
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 shallots small banana
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoon double cream
- 6 tablespoon white wine
- 4 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Peel the garlic and shallots and chop finely.
- Put the chopped garlic and shallot in a saucepan with the wine and vinegar.
- Put the saucepan over a medium heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook until just over a tablespoon of the liquid remains then turn the heat down to low.
- Whisk in the cream.
- Add in a few cubes of butter and whisk quickly until it is thoroughly incorporated.
- Add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time and whisk continuously as it melts.
- When you have just a few pieces left, turn off the heat completely and whisk the remaining butter in.
- Season the sauce to taste before serving.
- Keep it fluid in a water bath or bain marie to serve warm.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
More French sauces
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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