Bill’s Own Tartar Sauce

I’ve been asked several times now for a ‘good’ recipe for tartar sauce. The sauce itself derived from the French sauce tartare, named after the Tatars from the Eurasian Steppe, who once occupied parts of Ukraine and Russia. The French probably stumbled upon this during the Napoleonic occupation. A recipe from Boston in the late 1800’s called for whole eggs, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and butter.

Today, most home-cook recipes skip the while egg and vinegar step and start right off with mayonnaise. So, I start with mayo too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup low fat mayo
  • 1 table spoon minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of fresh lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Before I use the minced red onion, I rinse it with water and a touch of white vinegar to reduce its bite. Then, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Once its all well mixed together I put it in a sealing jar and put it in the fridge.

For me, tartar sauce is a slightly sweet/ slightly tart, fresh tasting sauce to be used sparingly to highlight the taste of wonderfully cooked fish. It’s not a cover-up excuse used to bomb the lack of flavor and rubbery texture of poorly cooked chunks of seafood flesh!

I think that people like my tartar sauce because I don’t go putting a bunch of spices or seasonings in it. Too often I see these mile long recipes that add cumin, paprika, old bay seasoning, celery salt, garlic powder… you name it, there’s a tartar sauce recipe that has you adding it to the mix.

The recipe above should carry you and a guest through a week of fish.