This month, we are celebrating Mardi Gras with a focus on Louisiana cuisine.
With king cake and beignets, sauce remoulade is another example of a ubiquitous creole recipe with French origins.
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 a 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. Remoulade was often used 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 or 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.
Remoulade sauce is often served with fish, seafood or cold meat. In France however, rémoulade, which is made from mayonnaise with vinegar, mustard, shallots, chopped pickles, capers as well as herbs like chives, chervil and tarragon, 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 a pink hued version of the same sauce, which includes paprika or ketchup. It is also a little more piquant.
Creole remoulade sauce is most often used on shrimp, crabs or crab cake, crawfish, fried calamari, 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 remoulade as they were a less expensive option on menus.
Remoulade 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.
There is not one recipe of remoulade although you will often find the same basic ingredients. Every chef has his own 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, shallots, tarragon, vinegar, white wine or even Worcestershire Sauce.
I decided to serve mine 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!
Recipe of Remoulade Sauce
- 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 garlic cloves
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.