With the arrival of an early Spring, I’m getting excited about asparagus! And for me, freshly crisp asparagus calls for a Sauce Gribiche. A great classic of French Cuisine, the Gribiche is a flavorsome mayonnaise-style sauce packed with capers, cornichons and fresh herbs.
And while still today an utter classic, it is one of those concoctions that’s still hard to put a label on … Is it a sauce? A mayonnaise? A dip? A condiment? A relish? I like to think it can be any of them! (I mean, is it important to put a tight label on everything?)
It’s creamy like a mayonnaise, tart like a relish, delicately salty like a sauce and refreshing like a seasonal condiment.
Sauce Gribiche is so versatile, which you can see from all the different ways it can be enjoyed. Classically in French Cuisine, Sauce Gribiche is to be served over a slice of calf’s head (a common French delicatessen find), boiled chicken (hot or cold), a meaty fish (hot or cold, usually mackerel or cod), tripe and meat terrines.
Although, in modern days you’ll probably see it more often served with “crudites” (shredded carrots, shredded celeriac, sliced tomatoes) and as a dressing in a lettuce salad.
My favourite way is to serve it with cooled asparagus (cooked, but they need to have a crunch still).
It is also delicious in a potato salad or as filling to make deviled eggs. See, so versatile!
- The first step for this sauce is the blending of a hard boiled egg yolk with mustard, to the consistency of a paste. This can be done in a mortar and pestle (like I did here) or in a simple bowl using the back of a spoon.
- A classic Sauce Gribiche is made with a bunch of mix chopped herbs, including flat-leaf parsley, chervil and/or tarragon. My own twist is that I like to add dill (instead of tarragon), which I find pairs perfectly with cornichons, eggs and capers.
- The classic French recipe calls for “cornichon” (small French-style sour gerkhins). Here in North America, you can find Maille Cornichons, that taste just like the ones in France. As a substitute, you can use dill pickles.
- If you do not have canola oil or grapeseed oil, you can substitute with extra-virgin olive oil. The taste will be slightly fruitier, but the difference will be really subtle in the end.
If you try this Sauce Gribiche let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram.
1 large egg, hard-boiled.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup canola oil (or grapeseed).
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
8 to 10 small capers; drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry
about 1/4 cup (gently-packed) mixed chopped herbs; flat-leaf parsley, chervil, and/or tarragon
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
For the sauce:
Peel the egg and separate the egg white from the yolk. Chop the egg whites in tiny cubes. Put the egg yolk, mustard and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle (or a bowl) and mash together until it becomes a smooth paste.
Transfer to a larger bowl, add the vinegar and then the oil, drop by drop, continuously whisking with a fork as if making mayonnaise. Keep the sauce creamy by adding small amounts of vinegar or warm water, as necessary.
Finish off the sauce by adding the chopped egg whites, cornichons, capers and chopped herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
For the asparagus:
Remove the woody ends, by gently bending the end of each asparagus spear until it snaps naturally.
Add the asparagus to a pan of boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes until bright green, and transfer immediately to an ice-bath. Let sit in the ice-bath for 4-5 minutes, drain and pat the asparagus gently with a paper towel to dry off.
Arrange the asparagus on a plate and drop the sauce on top by dollops.