This is an easy 5-minute plum sauce that pairs wonderfully with many different types of fish (and other proteins). The bite of the plums is a wonderful addition to cod, tuna, mahi mahi or salmon. This recipe is for pan-fried fish but the plum sauce would work with grilled, baked or even poached fish.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Plum Sauce Variations for Other Proteins
- Chinese fish dishes: the fish of choice in Chinese cuisine is often grouper or red snapper and the sauce often includes vinegar and sugar;
- Duck or game birds: often these proteins are more robust and you might want to add beef stock instead of chicken stock and port instead of sherry
- Mexican fish dishes seem to favor sea bass. These recipes might also spice it up with chile spices or a spicy blend. Just add 1/2 to 1 tsp chile spice to the sauce while cooking. The amount to add would depend on how spicy your blend is and how spicy you like your food.
- Salmon: Soy sauce is a common addition for salmon dishes. A little sugar is generally added also when soy sauce is used.
Other Uses for Plum Sauce
- This fruit based sauce often accompanies Chinese side dishes as a dipping sauce for things like egg rolls, spring rolls or wontons;
- If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is delicious over rice or noodles (or pumpkin);
- Some cooks will add it to Asian slaws;
- In addition to the proteins mentioned above, plum sauce also works well with shrimp, chicken or pork.
Spices or Other Additions or Substitutions
Plum sauce lends itself to many different spices, whether it be a sweet blend or a spicy blend or a savory blend. Here are some of my favorite spice combinations:
- Five spice blend
- smoked chile spices (like chipotle or ancho)
- hot and bright chile spices (like habanero)
- star anise
- Oyster sauce
- Plum extract
- Plum Jam
Will Store Bought Plum Sauce Work?
Fresh plums are not always available due to seasonality or your region. In this case, a store bought plum sauce can work in a pinch. Often, hoisin sauce is used as a substitute. Just read the ingredient list and opt for the one with the least sugar.
Plums are generally in season for most of the Fall and sometimes into the Winter. There is a huge variety of plums and any of the fresh plum varieties will be tastier (and prettier) than a purchased sauce.
The other advantage of making your own sauce is you can control the ingredients, like the sugar or stocks or alcohol. This can be a huge advantage for those with health concerns or on a specific diet.
Which Cooking Method Works Best for the Fish?
It really doesn’t matter which cooking method you use for the fish. It can be steamed, broiled, grilled, en papiote or baked. My favorite method is pan-frying in a couple tablespoons of oil because I like to use a rub and get a good sear on the outside.
The main thing with cooking fish is to not overcook it. It is hard to take it off the skillet when it still looks undercooked, but remember that it continues to cook once removed. Overcooked fish is rubbery and the main reason people shy away from cooking it. Tender fish enhanced with a sauce or spice however, is a delicious, healthy delicacy!
Recipe for Plum “Butter”
I have many recipes on this site for fish dinners, but not that many recipes that use plums. That’s a shame because they are absolutely delicious (I’ll work on it). I do have a recipe however for a Plum Butter made in the slow cooker and is a wonderful Fall comfort food.
Plum Sauce for Fish Dinner
- medium size pot
- sharp knife
- 20-24 Ounces Fish filets I used Mahi Mahi, any thick filet would work (cod, tuna, salmon)
- 1/3 Cup Fish spice rub I used HeathGlen’s master fish rub
- 4 Tbsp Refined olive oil (divided) Or grapeseed oil (or an oil with a high smoke point);
- 1 Medium Onion Chopped
- 3 Large Plums Cut into wedges
- 2 Tbsp Butter Unsalted
- 1/4 Cup Chicken broth Alternatives: orange juice or vegetable broth or sherry or water
- Cut the filets into desired length and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the spice rub liberally over the filets and rub it in. (add salt if your rub doesn’t have any in it). Turn them over and repeat on the opposite side. Set aside while you make the plum sauce
- In a pot or skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons refined olive oil (or other oil) over medium high heat. Add onions and caramelize by cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes or until transclucent. Then add plums, butter and broth and cook together for 2-3 minutes until it thickens to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons refined olive oil (or grapeseed oil) over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add spice-rubbed filets to the skillet and sear/cook for1-2 minutes (time depends on thickness of filets – do not overcook). You should see the filet is white at the bottom, and still raw/transparent in the upper part of the filet. Gently turn or flip the filets and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Add the plum sauce to the skillet to heat up and blend together with the fish.
- Transfer fish to a serving plate and spoon the plum sauce over it. A good side dish is something green and crispy like green beans. Rice is a common side dish if you are not low carb.