Signature Sauce Base: Tomato Jus

When it comes to food photography, one thing you hear over and over is “natural light, natural light, natural light”. This is certainly true, but it doesn’t help me with shooting dinner in a Manhattan apartment. Maybe if I only cooked in July…

Anyway, I’m not alone, and I’ve found some useful, practical, and affordable tips from some bloggers like Pinch of Yum. So I recently acquired a Lowel Ego Digital Imaging Fluorescent Light and a piece of wood modestly called “Naturally Distressed Recycled Rustic Weathered Boards” on Etsy. To celebrate, I decided to do what a certain category of food blogs (usually the ones that swear only by natural light) seems to revel in ad nauseum: a pedestrian recipe with totally superfluous pretty pictures.

Well, not quite pedestrian. Even though you’ll find a few recipes elsewhere, tomato jus isn’t as hackneyed as cupcakes or cinnamon rolls yet. I’ve actually already blogged about it in my Russian pork shashlyk post, and I plan to use it some more. This version is extremely simple — no herbs, no garlic — but it tastes really good, partly because the jus isn’t mixed with stock or any other liquid.

Tomato Jus
Does the world need another picture of tomatoes on wooden planks? Of course it does!

Tomato jus
Yields 180-200 g

600 g tomatoes
40 g olive oil
4 g salt

  • Cut the tomatoes in half and place into an oven dish, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt. Bake in a 200 C / 400 F oven for 1 hour.
  • Lightly break the tomatoes down with a tablespoon to release more of the liquid, then bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool.
Tomato Jus
We don’t really know what we’re looking at, but who cares?! It looks cool!
  • Strain the tomatoes and their jus in a chinois, using a ladle to help mash out as much juice as possible. The amount of jus that you get will vary with the tomatoes.
  • Let cool, and refrigerate. You can make a batch ahead of time and freeze it.
Tomato Jus
Finally found a use for those Pyrex measuring cups…
  • The jus can be used to make a pan sauce, mixed with spices for a marinade, or reduced and served on its own (like I did with the pork shashlyks).
  • The leftover tomato skins and seeds can be blended in a tomato sauce, or used to make stock.
Tomato Jus
Even refuse looks sexy.