Tartar sauce is a beloved condiment for seafood lovers, but have you ever wondered what’s really in it?
With concerns about sodium levels and food allergies on the rise, it’s important to know exactly what you’re consuming.
One ingredient that has been the subject of much debate is MSG, or monosodium glutamate.
In this article, we’ll explore whether or not tartar sauce contains MSG and what other factors you should consider when enjoying this classic accompaniment to fried seafood.
So sit back, grab a plate of fish and chips, and let’s dive into the world of tartar sauce!
Is There MSG In Tartar Sauce?
MSG is a flavor enhancer that is commonly used in many processed foods. It has been linked to various health concerns, including headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions.
So, does tartar sauce contain MSG? The answer is not straightforward. While some brands of tartar sauce do contain MSG, others do not. It all depends on the specific recipe and brand you choose.
If you are concerned about consuming MSG, it’s important to read the label carefully before purchasing tartar sauce. Look for brands that explicitly state they are MSG-free or have a clean ingredient list that doesn’t include MSG.
What Is Tartar Sauce And How Is It Made?
Tartar sauce is a creamy condiment that is typically made with mayonnaise, chopped pickles or relish, lemon juice, and herbs such as tarragon and dill. It’s a popular accompaniment to seafood, both fried and fresh, and can be used as a dip or a spread. Tartar sauce originated in France and is a mayo or aioli based condiment, but American preparations tend to be sweeter.
To make tartar sauce, you will need mayonnaise as the base ingredient. Mayonnaise is made with eggs, so it’s important to note that regular tartar sauce is unsuitable for vegans and people with an egg allergy. Other ingredients that are commonly added to tartar sauce include chopped pickles or relish, lemon juice, capers, shallots or onions, and herbs such as tarragon and dill. Optional ingredients that can be added to enhance the flavor of the tartar sauce include yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, olives, or onion.
To make a copycat McDonald’s tartar sauce recipe at home, you only need mayonnaise, sugar, dill pickle relish, and chopped white onion. For a homemade tartar sauce recipe that’s packed with interesting flavors and textures, you can use chopped dill pickles instead of sweet relish, honey for sweetness instead of added sugars and preservatives found in prepared relish, soy sauce for a punch of umami flavor, and fresh dill and green onions for added freshness.
The Controversy Surrounding MSG
MSG has been the subject of controversy for many years, with some people claiming that it is harmful to human health. This controversy stems from a number of studies that have linked MSG to various health problems, including headaches and allergic reactions.
However, many of these studies have been criticized for their methodology and lack of scientific rigor. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers MSG to be safe for consumption in small amounts.
One of the most persistent myths surrounding MSG is the idea that it causes a condition known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” This alleged syndrome is said to cause symptoms such as dizziness and palpitations after consuming Chinese food that contains MSG.
However, there is little scientific evidence to support the existence of this syndrome. In fact, the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” has been criticized as being outdated and racist, as it unfairly targets Chinese cuisine.
Despite the controversy surrounding MSG, it remains a popular ingredient in many processed foods. If you are concerned about consuming MSG, it’s important to read labels carefully and choose brands that explicitly state they are MSG-free.
Other Ingredients To Consider In Tartar Sauce
In addition to the basic ingredients of mayonnaise, chopped pickles or relish, lemon juice, and herbs, there are several other ingredients that can be added to tartar sauce to enhance its flavor. Capers, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, olives, and onion are all popular additions that can give tartar sauce a unique taste.
Yellow mustard is another ingredient that can be added to tartar sauce for an extra tangy flavor. Some recipes also call for horseradish or hot sauce to add a spicy kick to the sauce.
When making Japanese tartar sauce, sweet cornichons and minced shallots or red onions are added for additional texture and flavor. Finely chopped parsley is also used to give the sauce a pop of color and freshness.
It’s important to note that while these additional ingredients can enhance the flavor of tartar sauce, they can also increase its sodium content. Tartar sauce is already relatively high in sodium, containing 9% of the daily value in a single serving. So if you’re watching your sodium intake, it’s important to be mindful of the additional ingredients you add to your tartar sauce.
Tips For Choosing A Low-Sodium Tartar Sauce
If you are looking for a low-sodium tartar sauce, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, check the nutritional information on the label to see how much sodium is in each serving. Some brands may have significantly more sodium than others.
Second, consider making your own tartar sauce at home. This way, you can control the amount of salt you add and use alternative seasonings to flavor the sauce. For example, try using fresh herbs like dill or parsley, or adding a dash of lemon juice or vinegar for acidity.
Third, look for brands that offer low-sodium options or have reduced sodium levels compared to their regular tartar sauce. These options may still contain some sodium, but can be a good compromise if you don’t want to make your own sauce.
Finally, be aware that some brands may use alternative ingredients to enhance flavor in place of salt, such as MSG. If you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, it’s important to check the label for other potentially harmful ingredients as well.
Making Your Own Tartar Sauce Without MSG.
If you want to avoid MSG altogether, making your own tartar sauce is a great option. Not only will you have control over the ingredients, but you can also customize the flavor to your liking.
To make your own tartar sauce without MSG, start with a base of mayonnaise. You can use store-bought mayo or make your own at home using egg yolks, oil, and lemon juice. If you’re making Japanese-style tartar sauce, consider using Japanese mayonnaise for a smoother texture and umami flavor.
Next, add in chopped pickles or relish, capers, and lemon juice for a tangy kick. You can also add in chopped herbs like dill or parsley for additional flavor.
To avoid MSG, skip any pre-made seasonings or spice blends and instead opt for natural herbs and spices. Black pepper is a great addition to tartar sauce and adds depth without any added MSG.
By making your own tartar sauce without MSG, you can enjoy the delicious flavor without any potential health concerns. Plus, it’s a fun and easy way to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with different flavor combinations.