Agristada, a velvety lemon and egg sauce, is one of the most loved sauces in Sephardic* cuisine, and one of my personal favorites. The sauce can be served warm or cold, and it is traditionally paired with fried fish, though also served with cooked fish, meatballs or steamed vegetables, especially artichoke.
The consistency of the sauce is pretty similar to mayonnaise, but it is much lighter, as it contains only a small amount of oil. The sauce is also perfect for those with lactose intolerance, as it doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients.
Some versions for the sauce start with a mixture of oil and flour (roux), for easier preparation. However, I still prefer the flavor and texture of the version I have here, even though it has a bit more risk of curdling.
Traditionally, a small amount of the strained oil in which the fish was fried in, is added to the prepared sauce. I’m aware of it that this addition sounds weird, but apparently there is a valid reason for this practice, as the oil adds a very unique nutty flavor to the sauce.
I’m sure you’ll think the same once you’ll try it.
* For more information about Sephardic origins and cuisine, see the introduction for THIS POST.
Check HERE for more recipes from the Sephardic cuisine.
A few more notes:
* I’ve used Tilapia fish, but any other fried fish you prefer can be used instead.
* I like the sauce very lemony, if you prefer it to be a bit milder, reduce the amount of lemon juice to ¼ cup.
* If despite of all your efforts the sauce still curdled, don’t despair. Strain it through a fine sieve and most likely you’ll be able to save it.
* The sauce can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to two days.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes for the fish, 15 minutes for the sauce
For the fried fish:
4 skinless, boneless, Tilapia fillets, cut in half lengthwise
1 L egg
2 Tbs water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup flour
Oil for frying
For the Agristada Sauce:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups water
1 Tbs salt
1 L egg
1 Tbs water
¼ cup flour
For serving: lemon wedges, chopped parsley
1. The fried fish: wash and pat dry the fish pieces with paper towels. Whisk the egg with the water, salt and pepper. Add the flour and whisk to a smooth batter. Place the fish pieces in it and roll in the batter to cover from all sides.
2. Preheat oil for shallow frying in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the fish pieces and fry until golden-brown on both sides. Keep in a warm place until serving. Once the oil in the pan cools a bit, strain it through a fine sieve. Keep on the side, for the sauce.
3. The sauce: in a medium size pot, mix the lemon juice, water and salt. Place on medium heat and bring to the boil.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg with the water, then add the flour. Whisk vigorously, until you get a lump-free paste.
5. Take the pot with the hot lemon water off the heat. Add 1/8 of a cup of the lemon water to the egg paste, whisking vigorously to make sure the egg doesn’t curdle. Add another 1/8 cup and keep on whisking. Now add the egg mixture into the pot, whisking constantly. Place the pot back on medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Make sure not to let the sauce boil.
6. Transfer the sauce into a bowl and let cool a bit. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the strained oil on top, mix gently and keep in a warm place until serving.