Tartar Sauce for Florida Barbecue: Smoked Mullet and Grilled Fish

The Best Tartar Sauce For Fish And Other Seafood

By:

Meathead

smoked mullet at starfish

If you like tartar sauce then you’ll love this home made version.

Tartar Sauce, or sauce tartare as it was originally called in France, has been around a long time. It is in the same family as Italian aioli (garlicy mayo), or French sauce remoulade (mayo, herbs, capers, cornichons, and anchovies), both oil and egg based sauces. Thought to be named after the Tartars, Mongolian conquerers who roamed what is now Russia and its neighbors in the 5th century, the recipe hasn’t changed much over the years.

According to Foodtimeline.org “sauces made with eggs, oil, vinegar, and spices date back to Medieval times, a tradition carried over from Ancient Roman cookery. These recipes were not called tartar sauce but are unmistakably similar to the sauce we know today.”

Above, that’s smoked mullet from the Star Fish Company Seafood Market in Cortez, FL, north of Bradenton. Below is smoked mullet from the famous Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish in St. Petersburg.

ted peters smoked mullet

Tartar Sauce Recipe For Fish And Other Seafood


tartar sauce
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
3.18 from 23 votes
Tartar sauce is classic as a dipping sauce for fish, but you can slather it on the fish before you grill. It doesn't melt off and helps seal in moisture. It is also great for dipping French fries (in Belgium and other much of France, they never use ketchup), fried shrimp, fried chicken, even broccoli, and as a base for egg salad.

Serve with: seafood and a citrus IPA.


Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American, Southern
Difficulty: Moderate

Makes:

Servings: 1 cup

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onion tops
  • 2 green onion bottoms
  • 1 tablespoon pickle relish (or chopped sweet pickles)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole grain or coarse ground mustard
  • a few drops hot sauce, more if you wish
  • Morton kosher salt
  • finely ground black pepper
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Options. I recommend you make it by the recipe the first time, and then you can riff on it the second time. If you wish, you can use lime juice, vinegar, or pickle juice instead of lemon juice. A splash of malt vinegar is nice and while you're at it, try a splash or Worcestershire sauce. If you don't like capers, you can substitute cornichons, or just forget about them. Finely minced celery is a nice addition. You can use sweet gherkins for the pickles, sweet pickle slices, you can use sweet pickle relish, dill pickle relish, or even finely minced cornichons. Dijon-style mustard can be swapped for the whole grain mustard. Skip the hot sauce if you like, add more if you like, or use red pepper flakes or chipotle powder if you like. I think tarragon is essential, it really compliments fish. If you can get fresh tarragon, use 1 1/2 teaspoons. Dill is a nice substitute. I love Miracle Whip, but it is too sweet for this recipe, IMHO.

Method

  • Prep. Chop the green onion tops and bottoms to create approximately 1 tablespoon of each.
  • Finely chop the capers.
  • Mix everything together in a bowl and scoop it into a jar.
  • Chill. Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours if you can to allow the oil to extract the flavor from the tarragon.
  • Serve. Serve with your favorite fish, otherwise it will keep for months in the fridge.

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Published On: 2/16/2015 Last Modified: 3/26/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


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