In a Pinch: Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

With no dinner plans, and the lack of desire to do a full-on grocery store shopping, we removed a beautiful tuna steak from the freezer and then made a quick trip to the local farm nursery. There we selected freshly picked corn on the cob, a few heirloom tomatoes and an ripe avocado. Easy enough, right?

IMG_6625Make a side salad of sliced heirloom tomatoes on a bed of baby arugula and a few slices of a ripe avocado dressed with Avocado Ranch Dressing, yum!

Yet something else was needed to dress up that tuna steak and I knew we had just the right ingredients on hand to do so. You’re also likely to have most of what’s needed to throw this Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce together in a pinch. It has a bright zingy flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled tuna (swordfish steaks would be a no-brainer substitute.) Any leftover sauce would be great to mix with canned tuna and used as a spread, or mix into a pasta salad.


If you’re squeamish about anchovies, no need to worry because they are well blended into the other ingredients. Plus, hiding in the fish’s tiny briny glory are vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and niacin, to name a few. They’re one of the most sustainable fish out there, resilient to fishing pressures with a quick reproductive cycle.

Now the big question: salt-packed or oil-packed? Oil-packed anchovies are just the filets; salt-packed anchovies are everything but the heads and tails—scales, fins, and bones are left intact and softened during the process. Salt-packed anchovies are prized by anchovy lovers for their blast of pristine fishy flavor, while oil-packed versions are slightly more subtle, though easier to eat. The salt- and oil-packed anchovies perform similarly in most uses, though the salt-packed version has a nice extra punch when eaten raw. As for anchovy paste, skip it altogether.


On a side note, I have to give a shout-out to this Chipotle Parmesan corn-on-the-cob seasoning blend. All you have to do is shake it onto a hot ear of corn smothered in butter, or mix right into some melted butter first, then baste onto the corn. I bet it would be darn right tasty on popcorn and baked potatoes too!


Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

  • Servings: about 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste, or 1 clove coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • A few pinches chopped snipped chives for garnish


  1. Drop the first 5 ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until well blended.
  2. Add a few pinches of salt, lemon zest, and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and pulse to combine.
  3. Scrape the spread into a bowl, stir in the capers, and season it to taste with pepper.
  4. Spoon the mixture over grilled tuna or other seafood steaks and add a pinch of fresh chopped chives.

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