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Thousand Island Sauce/Dressing

October 14, 2011

I’ve always been a fan of thousand island dressing.  When I was a kid, I only used thousand island dressing for my salads.  Nothing else.  Why?  Because, as I was growing up, that’s all my parents ever had with their salads, thousand island.  When I was out with relatives, that’s all they ever requested as well, thousand island.  I later came to realize that there are very few Asians, or maybe it’s just Thai people, that don’t like thousand island and use it exclusively as their salad dressing of choice.  How thousand island dressing became that popular is beyond me.  These days, I’ve broadened my horizons a bit and I actually request other types of salad dressing.  But that’s not to say that I don’t like thousand island still.

These days thousand island has become more than just a salad dressing.  It’s a condiment as well and can be used in burgers (it’s In-N-Out’s secret sauce as well as the sauce that McDonald’s uses for Big Mac’s; at least they use their own variation of thousand island), we use it for our bison burgers, or as dipping sauce, I prefer it for dipping our home-made onion rings over using ketchup or ranch.

Supposedly, the name thousand island c0mes from the region known as the Thousand Islands situated between the United States and Canada on the St. Lawrence River.  Legend has it that a fishing guide’s wife made the condiment for her husband for dinner one night.  Apparently her husband loved it so that she began to use it in other items.  Somehow it came to be that an actress from the Thousand Islands tasted the condiment and loved it and requested the recipe.  This actress happened to be friends with George Boldt, another Thousand Islands resident and proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  Boldt enjoyed the dressing so much he told his chef to start using the dressing at the hotel.  The rest is history.  Whether or not that story is true is unknown, but it makes for a nice legend.

These days, thousand island sauce, which is a variant of remoulade and Russian dressing, is commonly made with mayonnaise as its base.  It can contain a wide variety of other additives such as olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, cream, chili sauce, tomato puree, ketchup or tabasco sauce.  What you use generally depends on what you have on hand, what flavor you like your thousand island to turn out, and how you feel you want to achieve thousand island’s signature rosy color.  Additionally, thousand island traditionally also contains some finely chopped fresh ingredients ranging from pickles to onions, bell peppers, green olives, hard-boiled eggs, parsley, pimento, chives, garlic or chopped nuts (such as walnuts or chestnuts).

Unknown to me, my husband learned to make home-made thousand island sauce long ago.  It’s a good thing I actually like thousand island sauce!  These days, when ever we need a dipping sauce or we make burgers at home, we always choose the route of home-made thousand island sauce rather than buying a bottle of pre-made sauce at the grocery store.  For us, it’s about making something fresh at home, being able to control what goes into the dish and how much of it, and also being able to adjust the condiment to our tastes.

Ingredients for our home-made version of thousand island sauce include: mayonnaise, finely chopped onions, relish, chili sauce, cream or milk (generally milk since that’s what we normally have in the refrigerator), and dried chopped parsley.  Once you’ve got all the ingredients, the rest is super easy.

Dump the finely minced onions and relish into a small bowl.

To the bowl, add a lot of mayonnaise.  There’s really no substitute for the mayonnaise because that’s where the creaminess of the thousand island sauce comes from.

To the mayonnaise, you want to add chili sauce.  Remember, the name chili sauce is a bit of a misnomer.  While it does have a teeny tiny weeny bit of heat to it, it’s not really chili-like.  The more chili sauce you add, the more rosy the color of your thousand island sauce will become.

Add a splash of milk (or cream) to the bowl.

Add some chopped parsley to the bowl as well.  We generally used dried herbs because we store that in our pantry, but if you have fresh herbs, it’ll be even better.

Now mix everything all together.  You want to mix it well so that all of the ingredients are combined.  Judge how thick or thin your sauce becomes.  If it’s too thick, as in you spoon up a scoop and it sticks to your spoon, you’ll want to add a little more milk to thin it out.  If it’s too thick, as in your spoon up a scoop and it runs right off your spoon, you’ll want some more mayonnaise in your mixture.  Also taste test it to make sure it’s got the right flavors that you prefer.  Does it need more chili sauce?  Do you need more relish?

Once your sauce is seasoned correctly and is the right consistency, you’re ready to go!  Use it as salad dressing, as dipping sauce for your french fries or onion rings, or as sauce for your hamburgers.  It’s delicious and you’ll never want to go back to thousand island from a bottle again!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    October 14, 2011 3:25 pm

    I don’t know what Thousand Island tastes like! I think I would probably like it, but I have never ordered it on a salad or eaten a Big Mac (may have had it one time on In-N-Out w/ you guys?? Not sure…).

    • October 14, 2011 3:29 pm

      Wow! I can’t believe you’ve never had thousand island dressing. What is your favorite type of salad dressing? A vinaigrette? I love those too!

      Yeah, when you had In-N-Out with us that one time it had their version of thousand island; which they call their “secret sauce”, but it’s super close to Thousand Island.

      Sam and I detest ranch dressing which every seems to down their food in, so we use thousand island instead.

  2. Amanda permalink
    October 14, 2011 10:08 pm

    I’ve never had potato hash either, so I am learning something new every day! I like almost all dressing except blue cheese, but my favorite for salad is probably italian. Depending on my mood or my food I will eat anything from French to Italian to Honey Mustard to Caesar to any type of vinaigrette. And I like Green Goddess, too. I don’t particularly care for Ranch on salads, but I like it as dip. I guess there is just so much out there I’ve never gotten around to trying Thousand Island, but now I feel like I have to!

    • October 14, 2011 11:27 pm

      Caesar’s gotta be one of my favorties.

      I can certainly understand the potato hash since you’re not a potato fan.

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