In general, tartar sauce serves as a piquant contrast to otherwise bland food. In Hungarian cuisine Tartar Sauce provides a base for salads, serves as filler, or as a dipping sauce for a wide variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Always mayonnaise based, but distinctly different.

The standard home recipe is 1 part commercial mayonnaise and 1 part sour cream with salt, ground pepper, sugar and lemon juice for flavouring. The authentic version is substantially refined, starting with the combination of freshly made mayonnaise, medium dry white wine, salt, sugar and ground white pepper. The final product is both tart and sweet and has a wide range of possibilities for complex flavouring. You can add diced green or red onions, capers, etc. The amounts listed are merely estimates; the final product will depend on the ingredients, and on personal preferences.

Hungarian Tartar Sauce

1/3 cup very thick freshly made mayonnaise
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar

  • Combine the wine with the freshly made mayonnaise.
  • Gradually, bit by bit add some pepper, salt and sugar. At first add only a fraction of the suggested amount and taste it before you add more.
  • Dip the tip of a teaspoon into the sauce and taste. Adjust the seasoning. Rinse the teaspoon under hot running water*, dip and taste again. Continue until the flavour is just right.  
  • Make a note how much pepper, salt and sugar you used and make changes to the recipe accordingly.
  • Good tartar sauce could be pure luck, but often the result of repeated experimentation.
  • When not in use, keep the tartar sauce refrigerated. Shelf life, so to speak, is 4 days only.   

* Serious chefs have a line of clean utensils waiting for tasting. Never use a utensil once it has been in your mouth. Always rinse between tastings. It is not only unpleasant to think you are eating the cook’s saliva; the presence of saliva shortens the shelf life of food. Since digestion begins in the mouth, the enzymes present in human saliva start breaking the food down as soon as it enters the mouth. So be good to the people you feed and never eat into the food you are making. For more information check out Kitchen Hygiene.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!