Tartar, ravigote, gribiche, and rémoulade are four familiar mayonnaise sauces with very tricky and clouded pasts. It would take a forensically inclined scholar to sort them out, since over the last century the naming of them seems fairly arbitrary and ever-changing.
Ravigote: Sometimes a hot, flour-thickened chicken stock sauce with all the tartar ingredients plus shallots, sometimes a cold sauce more like the vinegar and olive oil sauce called gribiche.
Gribiche: Definitely a mayonnaise with a hard-cooked egg base, and the above usual suspects of capers, gherkins, and herbs. Except when it was a vinaigrette, with the same ingredients but with the cooked egg white and yolk chopped finely and mixed in.
Rémoulade: A hard-cooked yolk-based mayonnaise (sometimes), with all the usual suspects and the addition of mustard. Julia Child’s first book says that rémoulade is just tartar sauce with anchovy paste added, but ordinary mayonnaise with anchovy (and sometimes tomato) is called “antiboise.”
Whatever. I adore them all, so let me take a personal stand and lay down some practical advice: Bring up all this confusion only if you need to liven up the dinner table. Leave tartar simple (mayonnaise with parsley, chives, chopped capers, chopped gherkins, and lemon zest). For ravigote, see gribiche, which should be the vinaigrette type with all the ingredients of the Montpelier butter except the butter.
Here is my take on the superb sauce called rémoulade. Have all the ingredients at room temperature, and the herbs must be fresh.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
Add the gherkins and capers no more than 2 hours before serving. Leaving them in the sauce for too long produces a gasoline taste.
© 2002 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.