Tartar sauce is traditionally served with seafood, particularly battered and fried fish. It may also be used with other fried foods, on burgers and sandwiches, or even as a salad dressing.
Tartar sauce has a salty and sour flavor derived from vinegar, making it a good accompaniment to deep-fried savory foods, such as beer-battered shrimp, fish cakes and potato fries. It also works well as a spread on fish sandwiches. Though there is some debate as to its origin, it may have been invented as a condiment for steak tartare – a French dish made from thinly sliced or ground raw steak. In some cases, tartar sauce is paired with meat dishes, such as poultry or sweetmeats.
Basic tartar sauce is made from a mixture of mayonnaise and pickle relish. Variations on the recipe may include other ingredients, such as Dijon mustard, capers, parsley, chives and hot pepper sauce. The sauce is usually thick and chunky in consistency. The mayonnaise base may be made from scratch using raw egg yolks, vinegar and oil before adding spices and chopped vegetables. Some recipes use cooked egg yolks to give the sauce a thicker consistency. Thicker tartar sauce works best as a dip or spread.