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My August Quest: the perfect tartar sauce

Every Monday I pick up my fish share, and for the most part it has been cod. We have had cod every way imaginable. This week I found myself craving tartar sauce to accompany my delicious fish. So, the quest is on. A tartar sauce made at home with the attributes that I enjoy. I prefer a tart tartar sauce over the sweet varieties.

I have made the mayonnaise to prepare for this tartar sauce quest. My first foray will be using Moonan's Fish Without A Doubt version. What is your favorite version? I have 8 more weeks of fish coming!

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  1. I would love to make my own and agree with the tart preference. Share everyone, please.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      I am really surprised that so far no one has mentioned RemouladeSauce.
      Lots of variations with that one, and alot more pitched toward the savory than sweet.

      And a personal favorite, though seldom made is Boiled Dressing, used as the base instead of mayo. With this you can add chopped egg, finely minced cabbage ( makes a great coleslaw) and let you imagination fly. It's good to use to make a cold salad from (leftover) fish, as a non-tuna fish sandwich. Switch it up and add some fruit like a bit of pineapple or granny smiths (againg, going for the minced)

      Might be fun for you to make a base and add extra flavor notes, as you work you way through the Summer of Fish!

    2. Once you say no to the extra gobs of sugar that I simply will never understand, you're 7/8 of the way there. Why so many ppl prefer to douse fish with sugary laden glop, I will just never get it. Anyway, you're basically making variations on a theme - common sense will always be a factor. You want good (not sweet - blech!) mayo, and then a sour note, along with something with a noted bite.

      1.savory pickle (not sweet - blech!) and onion, garlic, freshly ground black pepper.
      2. capers, onion, garlic, freshly ground black pepper
      3. chipotles in adobo (along with some of the canning sauce) onion, garlic, savory pickle.
      4. sesame oil, ground cayenne, onion, garlic

      6 Replies
      1. re: gordeaux

        Reading these, I can say if you can micro-plane the pickle, scallot and let sit a bit; you will greatly improve the taste. Homemade Mayo is a bonus. I do think a bit of sweet tweets the tart that you want, so I'd do a sweet gerkin for one of the pickles.

        Now all of this in said, given the fact that you do not want to make a sauce, but use what made stuff you have.

        1. re: Quine

          I'll just never be one to suggest adding sugar to fish. Doesn't make sense to me at all. A lot of restaurants sell sugary tartar sauce, so it would seem as tho it's what ppl like.

          Just definitely not for me at all. Sugary fish gives me the heebie jeebies.

          1. re: gordeaux

            LOL I think you have given us the clear impression that you hate sweet tastes. But for many people, it is one of the 5 (or 6) tastes that we have and enjoy.

            And for many, sweet is the taste they want the most. I personally. cannot understand it I am the sort taste lover myself.
            But I do think that some sweet rounds the jagged peaks that sours can have if they are the lone flavor tone. Balance my friend balance, taste with all of your tongue.

            1. re: Quine

              I get it, and I like other sweet / savory combos, but I really don't like them for tartar sauce. Things like sweet tartar sauce, and tuna salad made with godawful sugar laden miracle whip give me the chills.

              I would never say that I don't like sweet tastes, because I certainly have a sweet tooth. I just think overtly sugary tastes combined with fish is not my cup of tea. Reminds me of the time I had my first "fish feast" part about 8 yrs ago.
              Every year, friends and I go on a fishing charter, and then have a feast of fish afterwards. Countless times during the first feast, ppl were raving about the tartar sauce because it was not the "gross sweet stuff" that you normally get. I hear a lot off ppl say they think tartar sauce is gross. I happen to think that a lot of them have no idea that it does not have to be full of sugar - and that, to me, is the reason that I happen to think it's gross at a lot of places. I'm not saying that my palate is better than anyone else's (I'll be the first to admit I eat a lot of garbage - trust me) - I'm just saying that sweet pickles, or cheap sugary mayo or <gasp> miracle whip are all deal breakers for me when it comes to tartar sauce.

              LOL - I just thought of something. I LOVE grilled fish w/ mango salsa - but I look for unripe or only semi-ripe mangos when I make it..

              1. re: gordeaux

                *shiney* Welcome to the sour side.

                Over-sweet yuck. Muck around with some of these recipes. I think you might being seeing sugar but not realizing how llitte it is in relationship to the rest.

                1. re: Quine

                  no need to muck around with recipes for this. Been cooking for far too many years to not know what something will taste like to my palate even when it's on paper. Had far too many tartar sauces with sweet pickles to know that any amount is not good (for my tastes.) My idea of cloyingly sweet is just different than others.

      2. Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, minced cornichons, minced scallions, capers (whole or chopped) -- dab of mustard, heavy on the last 3. Sometimes I grate one of those crispy Armenian cukes on the large holes and squeeze out all the juice (tea towel works best, really twist and squeeze) and add that too, makes it really crunchy. Yum, tartar sauce....

        1. This sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

          Makes about 1 cup
          3/4 cup mayonnaise
          1/2 small shallot , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
          2 tablespoons drained capers , minced
          2 tablespoons chopped cornichons (or just sweek pickle relish)
          1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
          1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
          1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

          Mix all ingredients together in small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Stir again before serving.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bnemes3343

            Sounds great, but why only a week?

            1. re: c oliver

              The veggies will start to rot and exude liquid. Need I say more?

              1. re: pikawicca

                The "veggies" except for the the shallots are pickled and will not rot, in this or if left alone in a refrigerated airetight container. In this recipe, the mayo and the vinegar will effectively handle the shallots,
                If refrigrated on containered properly, no reason why can't go past a week.

                However, it is so good might not last that long, yum!

          2. This is my pickle-less (DH just doesn't like them) but very tasty version:
            3/4 c. mayo, 1/4 c. sour cream, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. dijon, 1 T. chopped capers, 1 T. minced shallot (I've substituted red onion when I didn't have a shallot on hand), 2 tsp. chopped chives, 2 tsp. chopped parsley, dash of worcestershire, dash of Tabasco.

            I've made a variation, very tasty on crabcake sandwiches, adding in 1-2 T. chopped sundried tomatoes in oil. Another with a tsp. of sciracha added.

            I also make a basil tartar sauce, by whirring together a handful of basil and a bit of olive oil in my mini-processor and adding the puree to the basic recipe and omitting the capers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              forgot one important ingredient--zest of one lemon!