One central reason for the beloved quality of French food is the sauces: the range of flavor and intensities is a treasure trove for us. There is, sadly, a little reluctance to go treasure hunting. Truth is, we are all too often in a fast food mood. We are having salmon tonight? Oh, let’s open the jar of tartar sauce. The one that has been sitting there for six months.
This classic French sauce is a far better alternative to that dusty jar. It’s a staple in France, typically made with oil, but here the suggested base is a little mayonnaise. This sauce is in fact described, in Wikipedia, as a mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are divided: yolks and whites. The whites are merely chopped finely. The yolks are literally mashed with mustard and vinegar. Add the mayo and seasonings. Then come the additions which classically include pickled cucumbers, capers, parsley, chervil and tarragon.
You are free to mix and match these additions, for example here using cornichons in place of the cucumbers. And you should taste test along the way. Adjusting the vinegar can give you a range of “bite” here. Too much of a bite? Add a little sour cream, which gives the sauce an interesting body as well.
Well chilled, this sauce has a spritely flavor that contrasts and complements salmon. Baked or broiled, with a caramelizing crust, salmon begs for a powerful partner. This sauce is supreme in this role.
Other uses? Any fish of course, but trout will be wonderful. This sauce, as an extended mayonnaise, will transform a sandwich into a fully-fledged memorable treat. Think of toasted French bread with thin slices of roast beef all slathered with this bright sauce.
Put that jar down. Hard boil some eggs. And have some inventive fun.
Yield: ⅔ cup
- 1 large hard-boiled egg
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cornichons or sour pickle
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon capers, drain and chopped
Remove the white from the hard-boiled egg and finely chop. In small bowl, mash the yolk, mustard, and vinegar to a paste. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper until well combined. Stir in cornichons, parsley, tarragon, capers, and chopped egg white until well blended.