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Food & Drink

How to make cocktail and tartar sauces

Cocktail sauce and tartar sauce are classic condiments, typically served with crustaceans and seafood, and you can make both from scratch in a matter of minutes. Serve either in a glass candy dish to class up your dinner party, or simply enjoy your favorite fish.

Cocktail sauce

Cocktail sauce is an easy, delicious way to give your seafood a kick. A basic recipe calls only for ketchup, horseradish and a little lemon juice, but many variations include Worcestershire and hot red pepper sauce. Making it from scratch may also prove cheaper than buying the bottled kind, especially if you already have the necessary ingredients.

The cocktailsauce.org recipe for shrimp cocktail sauce includes:

  • one cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup horseradish
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, horseradish and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Mix in the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can then opt to blend the ingredients together using a mixer or mix well by hand. Cover the bowl, whether you decide to keep it in your mixing bowl or transfer the sauce to a new one. You should let the condiment chill in the refrigerator until it's cool before you serve it. Store leftover cocktail sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one month. Try it with chilled, raw, fried or broiled seafood.

Tartar sauce
As with cocktail sauce, homemade tartar sauce is simple to pull together in very little time. Tartar sauce, not to be confused with the white powdered cream of tartar, has a mayonnaise base and is often paired with fried fish. Some recipes call for sweet pickle or dill relish or pickles, while others include capers, hard-boiled eggs, olives, onions, chives and Worcestershire sauce.

Actually preparing the tartar sauce is a matter of putting all of the ingredients in a bowl and stirring, so the challenging part may be finding the best combination of ingredients for your taste buds. Helpwithcooking.com has four basic recipes that cover some common variations.

Start any recipe off with mayonnaise, which you can also make in your kitchen if you are feeling particularly ambitious. You can substitute Miracle Whip if that is your sandwich spread of choice. Real Simple's tartar sauce recipe calls for:

  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of either dill or sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion or shallot
  • 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh flat-lead parsley
  • salt and pepper.

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. You can also mix the ingredients together using a food processor or blender, but this may not be necessary. Leave the sauce in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Add horseradish if you want to give your sauce a spicy kick. This version of the recipe serves six. Store any leftover tartar sauce covered in the refrigerator for a maximum of one week.