Comeback sauce

Shrimp with comeback sauce

The Canada goose stomping around the still-frozen lake last week honking angrily pretty much summed it up for all of us. My goose is a little rusty, but I am convinced he was  saying: “You gotta be kidding me – it’s the middle of April for crying out loud!”

Looking on the bright side, it seems that spring is finally here – kinda, sorta. And I am somewhat grateful that the giant dead birch tree that came down during the winter crushed the shed roof and not the cottage roof.  Plus, I am almost confident that summer might eventually come. Possibly, maybe.

The goose left – probably heading for Florida. Smart goose.

Those of us without wings – or sufficient air miles – will just have to wait and hope. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. So today I am pretending to be in Jackson, Mississippi, where it is going to reach 75 degrees (24 C) today and where local restaurants have been serving “comeback sauce” since the 1930s.

A cousin to Louisiana’s more famous remoulade, this sauce got its name because – you guessed it – customers come back for it.

Comeback sauce is ideal for summer because it is so versatile. Use it as a dip for grilled shrimp (hot or cold), slather it on burgers, or eat it with saltines the way they do in Jackson. It turns an iceberg wedge into an instant salad.  Great for lazy lakeside cooks like me who would rather be on the dock than in the kitchen.

There are many versions of comeback sauce. The recipe below is adapted from one in the New York Times (not very  Southern, I know) and has celery seed, which adds a bright, slightly  grassy flavour. But play around with the ingredients until you get the flavour you like best.  It will keep in the fridge for about two weeks, but it won’t last that long.

Comeback sauce

2/3 cup bottled chile sauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 or 3 dashes hot sauce

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely grated onion

3 cloves finely minced garlic

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seeds

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

3 teaspoons horseradish


Grind the celery seeds with a mortar and pestle or in an electric coffee grinder. Then combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth, adding a splash of water if the sauce is too thick. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to meld flavours. Enjoy!





One thought on “Comeback sauce

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: