Apicius 6.8.1

Uncooked Sauce for a Chicken


Put dill seed, dried mint and laser root into a mortar, pour on vinegar, add date, pour on liquamen, a little mustard and oil, flavor with defrutum, and use it as it is

(intended for a plain poached chicken)


Apicius 6.8.2 , a variant, adds honey and liquamen.

Intended as a finishing baste for a par-poached chicken, which is to be roasted.


all of the listed ingredients in small individual bowls, ready to be remeasured in to the recipe
It's a habit.

It’s hot, we want simple food that won’t heat up the kitchen, and which can be varied by using interesting sauces or amendments. This sauce looked slightly atypical of Roman food in that it does not call for lovage, but otherwise had many of the representative flavors.


The most important takeaway from this is when putting dates into a mortar and pestle, make sure they are moist! Soak them in advance, steam them, do something. Be sure they will not fight back. Think of them as potential superballs =) Then again, it could be dates so dry as to be a sugar; almost to a powder or crystalline. Pick your direction. I went for moist.


a pharmaceutical mortar and pestle with a single date and a small amount of vinegar being meaured in
I work in increments, an eighth of a teaspoon at a time. It takes a while.

The balance of seasoning is challenging, and is the heart of Roman food. Too much or too little of any one spice is going to be the death of the dish. Of course, we have no clue what Latin speaking cooks were after in terms of flavor detail, and have a lot of guesswork, but based on the types of seasonings, the order in which they are listed, and the stated uses of them, my best guess turned out pretty tasty and easily adjusted.


Defrutum is concentrated grape juice. Sometimes it can be gotten at a health food store. I simmered (non-concord) grape juice down to obtain it. It’s sweet and intensely grapey. If you have raisins, you can hydrate them and blender them to get a sugary grapey syrup as well, which could work.


I made a tiny amount, but with care, the service can adjust up. The mint is least likely to scale up well.


Our first reaction was ! A1 ! (with mint!)


the mortar and pestle with a dark, slick, homogeneous sauce
yes, it is earthy!

We plan to make a rather larger batch and see if it holds, and to try to honey/liquamen variant another day. This batch went with a plain roast chicken, and was just exactly not enough for two people.

Recipe: Uncooked Sauce for a Chicken


  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (sub for laser)
  • ½ tsp dried mint (adjust down as you make more, it will overwhelm)
  • ½ tsp dill seed
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 date
  • 1 tsp liquamen (fish sauce)
  • ½ tsp mustard powder (might be prepared, might be dry. I chose dry)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp defrutum (raisin sauce)


  1. Turn the asafoetida, mint, and dill seed into powder.
  2. Add the vinegar, stir some, and then add the date.
  3. Grind the date in until it is homogeneous, then add the liquamen, mustard, and oil.
  4. Fold together, then add just enough raisin syrup to sweeten and add a round grapiness.


Ratings; Some less common ingredients Hard to do in a blender or processor Very reliant on exact strength of your spices’ freshness for balance Uncooked Ages nicely over several days Is somewhat assertively familiar to our palates.

Number of servings (yield): 1


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