If You’re Having Fish & Chips…

If you’re going to have Fish & Chips, you must have Tartar Sauce to go with it. We are rather picky when it comes to our tartar sauce. You will never… and I mean EVER… find a jar of bought tartar sauce in this house unless a guest brings it. And, if that were the case, it would be going home with them.

We are highly critical of just about every tartar sauce we’ve ever tried. Most, we find, are far too sweet; why is there sugar in tartar sauce, anyway? If they’re not sweet, they’re usually nothing more than mayonnaise and chopped pickles. That’s not tartar sauce.


We have a favourite recipe, one we come back to every single time we make fish and chips (Captain Ben’s, of course!). John has a marvelous old cookbook, The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook (published in 1943); it’s falling apart now but is it ever fascinating to read.

004His book contains two tartar sauce recipes. Tartar Sauce No.1 is our go to recipe.


It comes together quickly, it’s tangy and flavourful, it’s the perfect complement to Captain Ben’s Crispy Cod. Incidentally, I used tarragon vinegar that I made last year with tarragon from my back door garden… dead simple to make; the chives, too, are from my garden, the first of this year’s crop. I love that!



Tartar Sauce No. 1

(from The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook)

[printable version]

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped green olives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot or young onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon malt, tarragon, or white wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate. The sauce can be used immediately but is even better if it’s had a chance for the flavours to develop.


Marinara Sauce

We have, here in Kelowna, a lovely green grocer, Quality Greens. Every Saturday, they offer samples of some of their deli meats or cheeses and, often, a dish of some sort made with ingredients for sale in the store. Yesterday, when I dropped in to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, they were offering samples of sliced roasted chicken and a noodle dish made with a bottled garlic marinara sauce.

The young lady serving the samples read out part of the label as I ate the noodles. The sauce contained no sugar and was sodium reduced. To say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. If I could say anything about the sauce, I would say they forgot to add the flavour. The sauce was bland, bland, bland.

As I turned away from the young lady, I whispered to her that I was on my way home to make a batch of marinara sauce so I wouldn’t be buying any kind of bottled marinara sauce but thank you for the sample.

When you have home grown tomatoes in your freezer, there is absolutely no reason to add sugar to marinara sauce. Last year’s tomatoes, grown in our own back yard, have such a wonderful sweetness to them and the resulting marinara sauce is amazingly flavourful. You can, almost literally, taste last year’s sunshine in every mouthful.


I came across a recipe for marinara sauce last year when I was looking for recipes for a girl’s night with the ladies I work with. I made manicotti and the recipe I found had each part of the manicotti (noodles, ricotta, and marinara sauce) made from scratch. It was a hit and I’ve been making the marinara sauce since then. If I could find the recipe again, I would link to it; unfortunately, I found it through Punchfork, which no longer exists. I didn’t save the link but did download the recipe.

If you do try this marinara sauce, I heartily recommend using home grown tomatoes. If you don’t have any frozen or canned tomatoes, use a good brand of tinned tomatoes. The better the ingredients, the better the sauce.


This is a good sauce to use on pasta, on pizza, anywhere you would use marinara sauce.



[printable version]

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped curly or flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put tomatoes and their liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes along with the oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly and its flavours come together, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes about 3 cups