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Worcester Sauce - All About the Spicy Sauce!

What's in it and how to use it properly in the kitchen

Before we dive into the world of Worcestershire sauce (also known as "Worcestershire sauce"), let's get the supposedly most complicated matter over and done with: pronunciation. Repeat after me: wuss-ter-sauce. You see, it's not that difficult at all.

Worcester sauce for beginners: what is it made of and how does it taste?

Worcestershire sauce is a thin brown sauce with a very complex taste that can best be described as piquant, tart and tangy. This also makes sense if you read the list of ingredients on the label.

The exact recipe is top secret, but a few ingredients such as anchovies, molasses, malt vinegar, onions, garlic, sugar, tamarind and a very special blend of spices are of course known. There are also country-specific differences: The American version, for example, contains three times as much salt and sugar as the British original - so you should always make sure that you choose the right Worcester sauce depending on the recipe.

The story of a classic: the original recipe

Just like behind the name itself, there is also a wonderful, fitting story behind the creation of Worcester sauce. The original sauce (made in Worcestershire, England) was actually just an attempt to mimic the complex, tangy taste of a particular Indian seasoning sauce. A British nobleman had come to know and love them during the colonial period. The chemists Lea & Perrins then put together a similar sauce, which they found much too hot, however, and banished the "failed attempt" to the cellar, where the sauce was forgotten. According to legend, the two of them did not hold the bottles in their hands again until two years later and were delighted by the all-round harmonious taste. Thanks to two years of fermentation, Worcester sauce was invented!

Use Worcester sauce correctly

Worcester sauce is extremely versatile and is particularly effective in combination with ingredients that already have an umami taste, e.g. red meat, mushrooms, eggplant, cheese and tomatoes. Although it is referred to as a "sauce", it is better to use it sparingly and carefully while cooking, rather than drowning a finished dish in it as you serve it.

The sauce is ideally used as a concentrate, with which you can give different dishes (more on this below), sauces (e.g. roast, steak and classic cocktail sauces) and even drinks (keyword: Bloody Mary) an incomparable note. And yet, we have to admit that a few drops of it on a fried steak is definitely not the worst idea.

Did you know that Worcester sauce is one of the most important ingredients in a Bloody (or Virgin) Mary? It gives the tomato juice, which would otherwise be too watery, a certain depth. Our insider tip: Combine it with Tabasco next time and you will never want to drink Bloody Mary any other way.

Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free Worcester sauce

Since Lea & Perris' original Worcester sauce recipe contains anchovies, the sauce is neither suitable for vegetarians nor vegans, but according to the company it is gluten-free. Products from other manufacturers may also contain animal ingredients such as gelatine or lard. However, there are also vegetarian and vegan versions of Worcestershire sauce that do not contain any animal products - so always take a look at the label if you are unsure.

You should also be careful if you suffer from gluten intolerance. Many products contain ingredients made from undistilled barley, wheat or rye, as well as soy sauces and malt vinegars containing gluten. However, gluten-free Worcester sauces are usually clearly labeled as such.

How to find the best Worcester sauce

No matter which brand you choose: A good quality Worcester sauce should contain as few additives as possible. So when shopping, go for the product with the fewest number of ingredients and make sure that the original ingredients that we listed above actually ended up in the sauce. A very simple rule of thumb that we like to follow is: if you see numbers on a product's ingredients list, leave it where it is.

Replacing Worcester Sauce: Helpful Alternatives

Unfortunately, the unique mixture of fermented ingredients can never be exactly replaced, but if you notice while cooking that your Worcester sauce is empty, you can help out with your own seasoning mixture. To do this, mix tamarind paste or sauce, tamari, spices such as ground cloves, vinegar and, if you like, even a small shot of Tabasco. Spicy steak sauces or high-quality concentrates for beef or mushroom stock, which give your dish an umami taste, are an even faster alternative - but these should definitely end up in your next Bloody Mary.

The tastiest recipes with Worcester sauce

Here are a few classics and new recipe ideas in which Worcestershire sauce makes all the difference.

Worcester sauce is one of the essential and original ingredients for a Caesar salad. In combination with salty anchovy, the salad gets its typical taste. Try it both in the classic and grilled version!

Worcester sauce goes "naturally" with red meat and pork, especially if you want to spice up a piece of meat that is only mild in taste. But it goes particularly well with minced meat, so why not add a little Worcester sauce to your next meatloaf or burger patties? If you are preparing a meat dish with sauce (e.g. a "Steak & Ale Pie"), you can also add a few extra drops to your gravy.

If you're not careful, pasta dishes with a lot of cheese can quickly become sweet and too powerful. Mac & Cheese, which are already high on our list of favorite feel-good foods, can even be given a spicy finishing touch with a few drops of the spicy Worcester sauce, which loosens up the strong cheese taste. For a vegan "cheesy" pasta, you should definitely use some vegan Worcester sauce, like this penne with roasted paprika cheek sauce.

Worcester sauce is great in a variety of homemade sauces like ketchup or barbecue sauce - just follow our recipe for pork chop. In fact, the spicy, piquant taste of Worcester sauce itself is reminiscent of barbecue sauce - why not try a drop of it.

Some people swear by adding some Worcester sauce to their scrambled eggs - though our recent search for the perfect scrambled egg recipe revealed otherwise. But don't let that put you off, because the sauce goes well with proteins of all kinds, even if it's just a humble, boiled egg. We prefer to use them in sauce to give Shakshuka a certain depth.

6. Pan and gravy

If you prepare dishes in a pan (whether meat or vegetables such as eggplant and mushrooms, which are similar in consistency to meat), you can cook a suitable sauce directly in the pan. With the flavors that are already in the pan, the sauce will have a particularly harmonious taste, which is refined with a few drops of Worcester sauce. Use the sauce directly for - you can see exactly how this works in the following kitchen tip. It helps you to control the strength of the taste much better than if you use sauce powder, stock cubes and the like.

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Homemade braised beef with gravy

How do you use Worcester sauce in cooking? Do you have any more questions about sauce? Write us in the comments!

Published on July 14, 2018