What is the origin of remoulade?
Remoulade sauce originated in France around the seventeenth century, and appears to derive from ramolas, a word in the northern dialect of Picardy which means “horseradish”, which itself came from Latin word armoracea.
Sauce is actually a French word as well. It appeared in the fourteenth century and comes from Old French sauce or sausse, which itself is derived from Latin word salsa which defines anything “salted” or “salt food”.
Strategies to use sauce (salted condiment) were necessary for cooks at a time before refrigeration was available. People often used remoulade to hide the tainted flavor of spoiling meat, poultry and fish. Isn’t that appetizing?
Although it originated in France, remoulade is now quite popular in various countries, including in Finland, as well as Sweden where it is called remouladsås. The sauce is common in Denmark where it is often used on open-face roast beef sandwiches (smørrebrød). It is also popular in other nordic countries and regions such as Iceland, Faroe Islands, or Norway, as well as in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and obviously in the United States, where it has become a staple of Louisiana Creole cuisine.
How is remoulade served?
People often serve the remoulade sauce with fish, seafood or cold meat. However, in France, the French version is prepared with mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, shallots, finely chopped pickles, capers as well as herbs like chives, chervil, and tarragon, and is more commonly used in the salad called céleri rémoulade, which consists of grated celeriac with this mustard-flavored sauce.
In Louisiana, you will often find what is called Louisiana remoulade, a pink hued version of the same sauce, which includes paprika or ketchup and hot sauce, making it a little more piquant.
The Creole version of the remoulade dressing is most often used on shrimp, crabs or crab cake, crawfish, fried calamari, fried fish, artichokes, as well as fried green tomatoes. Nowadays, even though shrimp remoulade and crab cake with remoulade are very common appetizers in New Orleans Creole restaurants, it was hard boiled eggs that were historically served with the sauce as they were a less expensive option on menus than served as a crab cake sauce, for example.
The sauce really started becoming a staple of Louisiane Creole cuisine in the early 1900s. Indeed, back in 1918, a wine salesman named Arnaud opened a large restaurant on Bienville Street, in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It was in this establishment which has since become an institution in “NOLA” that shrimp remoulade was first introduced.
White remoulade versions of Louisiana have also made influenced condiments in the neighboring states. Indeed, Mississippi’s comeback sauce and Alabama white barbecue sauce are both cousins of the French-inspired sauce.
How to make remoulade sauce
Although you will often find the same basic ingredients, there is not just one recipe for this traditional remoulade sauce. Indeed, every chef has his own remoulade recipe, and you may find any of the following ingredients in what has become a staple condiment in Louisiana: anchovy paste, capers, Cayenne pepper, celery, chervil, chives, chopped pickles, mustard, hard-boiled egg or raw egg yolk, garlic, horseradish, ketchup, lemon juice, mayonnaise, olive oil, olives, parsley, scallions (green onions), shallots, tarragon, vinegar, white wine or even Worcestershire Sauce.
I decided to serve my version of this easy remoulade sauce with crab cakes for a French-inspired dinner a couple weeks ago. My crab cakes with spicy remoulade sauce preceded a boeuf bourguignon and a clafoutis. A delicious feast that my family and my friends Armelle and Laurent enjoyed as much as I did!
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 scallions , sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients and mix.
- The sauce can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days.