Monday, July 30, 2007

Tartar, Lord of Sauces

I have big news, people: tonight, completely by accident, I made an EXACT replica of Zip's Tartar Sauce.

Whenever I make my semi-annual trek back to Spokane, I always make sure to go to Zip's at least once, so I can get my tartar sauce fix. Sometimes I stop at the Zip's location in Ritzville on my way into town, just so to order a large fry, a couple small containers of that precious mayonnaise-based sauce, and possibly one of their many burgers, that all have names like "The Boss" and "the Salad Burger" (when I was a kid, I always expected that one to be a salad on a bun, but no - it's just a regular old hamburger with lettuce and tomato.) But it's the tartar that keeps me coming back. A few of the Zip's locations sell the tartar in 12 ounce soda cups to appease frenzied tartar fans like myself.

And no, I don't drink the tartar straight out of the cup - I learned my lesson in moderation a long time ago. My parents would occasionally take my whining little sister and I to one of the million Spokane Zip's locations. One hot summer day when I was 10 or so, I went a little crazy with the tartar sauce and managed to suck down at least 20 servings before my mother could notice and tell me to knock it off. Unfortunately for yours truly, the zitty 15 year-olds working behind the counter must have forgotten to swap out jugs at the condiment bar, because I spent the next day puking my guts out. Spoiled tartar puke.

And yet - I still wanted more. It's that good.

When I really like a particular food, I always want to figure out how to make it myself, because I like the idea of having it available 24-7. I don't like waiting 180 days to get my Zip's fix. So I've tried replicating the recipe countless times, based on what I guess is probably in it. I've detected small pieces of onion a few times, and some specks of what looks to be pepper, so I always include these ingredients. Once I even overheard an cashier explaining what goes into making the sauce, but a screaming child drowned out almost all of his words except "pickle juice." So I've been making mediocre mayo and pickle juice concoctions ever since. For a while I thought I got close by adding grated onion juice. I've tried to make up for my failures by spicing things up with capers, lemon, dill, chives, and so on. Still, the flavor was just not right.

So tonight, I was in a hurry, so I put some light mayo in a bowl, absentmindedly (and accidentally) poured in a ton more kosher pickle juice than usual. Then in a fit of laziness I added some garlic powder, onion powder and pepper, stirred it up and LO! Trumpets sounded, the clouds opened overhead and a beam of heavenly light shone down upon the bowl, while wing-ed angels sang in chorus. Zip's elusive tartar sauce sat on the counter before me. It took 32 years for me to stumble upon the secret. It really is the pickle juice that makes the tartar!

And now I never have to go back to Spokane ever again. The icing on the proverbial Scripture Cake. Although I probably will, because of annoying things like family and guilt.

PS - for those who care (Lisa I'm talking to you) I found this for sale on Amazon. WOO HOO!

Edit: Never mind about the mac and cheese. Despite the picture of canned macaroni, the description states it "comes in a microwaveable cup." After doing some more research, I've determined that the brand of canned macaroni I'm searching for is Franco-American and it has been discontinued. Damn you, Con Agra!


Carla said...

OK so I am obsessed with their fry sauce can you send or post the exact recipe as I rarely get to eastern washington these days?


Cindi said...

I am also obsessed with the Zip's fry sauce and have been trying to find the receipe for years. I now live in Texas so I can only get it every couple of years when I come to visit the family. Would you please, pretty please, send me the recipe as well? It would be soooo appreciated.

Cools4 said...

We moved from the Tri-Cities, Wa. to Texas a year ago and dearly miss the Zips and their fry sauce. Does anyone have this recipe??? If you could send it to us we would greatly appreciate it.

bre said...

I LOVE their fry sauce. I usually add a little ketchup to the tartar that you described and its pretty close. Still a little sweet, will add more pickle juice. THanks!

Anonymous said...

You'll want to add some paprika as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey There great article, born in Spokane and don't make it back these days any way you can email me the exact recepie I would really appreciate it. Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

I actually just started working at Zips in spokane and fry sauce is just mayo, ketchup, and pickle juice. So simple :)

Anonymous said...

OH MY WORD! Can someone PLEASE email me the recipe? I moved away from Spokane 10 plus years ago and have been trying to replicate this ultimate of tarter sauces.

John said...

I moved to Arkansas from Scottsdale and took 2 gallons of the golden-med. wing sauce with me and have tried a billion times to try and recreate it! I need help! Can anyone get the golden medium wing suace recipe for me? Mr. Anonymus? Im beggin! I need my fix of Golden-med wings sauce! Help anyone!

John said...

I just moved to Arkansas and am never going to get to eat Golden-medium wings again. I tried to recreate Zipps or Goldies Golden-med. wing sauce but cant do it! Im in desperate need of the recipe to get my fix on. Can anyone help with the sauce? Pleeeeeeease!

theotherjodiwatson said...

So how can you do the "dangle-yank"? I googled "zips tartar sauce recipe," only to come across your blog. I excitedly read your post, then in dismay realized you didn't actually post the recipe. Oh no!! Please please share your recipe, as I have been in Colorado for years now and only visit Zips once or twice every 5 years or so. More often than I'd like to admit my hankering for zips tater tots and tartar interrupts my peaceful slumber. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

The tartar sauce also has buttermilk and celery salt. There are 3 or 4 salts altogether: celery salt, seasoning salt, garlic salt and maybe onion salt. Then the rest is mayo, dill pickle relish and dill pickle juice. I used to work there years ago. I love it!

Anonymous said...

So close, it is actually:
1 Cube Mayonnaise
2/3 Can Relish
56 Squirts Catsup
50 Squirts Mustard
1 Ounce Garlic Salt
2 Ounces Celery Salt
1/3 Can Pickle Juice

Daddy said...

Have you made a replica of Zips Tartar in a smaller quantity? If so could you please post it.

Anonymous said...

Toni Kauffman said...

Can u give me the exact recipe? I miss zips so so much

Unknown said...

Umm shouldn't it have tartar in it also?

Unknown said...

Umm shouldn't it have tartar in it also?

Anonymous said...

This is even closer to Zips Tarter Sauce
1-1/4 cup Mayo
4-1/2 T ketchup
4 T Mustard
4 T Dill Pickle Relish
1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp Celery Salt
1/4 tsp pickle juice