World Famous Worcestershire Sauce: Lea & Perrins
Thoughts for Today: ”It is the sauce that distinguishes a good chef. The Saucier is a soloist in the orchestra of a great kitchen.” Fernand Point
Lea & Perrins Sauce
On this day in 1837, John Lea and William Perrins of Worcester, England started manufacturing Worcester Sauce (Worcestershire). It was marketed throughout Britain and other countries throughout the world during the time of Britain’s economic dominance.
Although it is not as big of seller in the U.S. as say ketchup or salsa, Americans still pull it out for steaks, sauces, dressings, stews and so forth, especially in the restaurant business. You would be surprised to find out how much of this sauce is used at your favorite dining spot. The kicker is for the most part, the rest of the world does the same thing.
In researching, I thought I would find Fish Sauce as the number one condiment world-wide. Many sources I looked at indicated olive oil is used more than anything as an addition to food. Kim chi, harissa, and chutney are up there as well, but I’ll leave you to decide what your favorite is.
Let’s go back to our condiment up for discussion today.
Worcestershire Sauce came from the county of his namesake, Worcester, England. The real story is that its origin is actually from India. Lord Marcus Stanley had retired after governing Bengal, India for many years and no longer had access to his favorite sauce back in the British Isles. Lord Stanley commissioned drug store owners John Lea and William Perrins to replicate this concoction.
The chemists’ original intent was to keep some of the sauce to sell in their drug store. The problem was that the fermented fish and vegetable mixture was so foul the Lord did not want it. Discouraged they then decided to store it in the cellar. It lay forgotten for a long time until rediscovered during a spring cleaning. Bravely the two druggist’s decided to give it another try. The aging of the product produced a wonderful sauce which quickly sold to an adoring public.
Lea & Perrins
Lea and Perrin used their success to set their sauce upon the dining tables of the numerous passenger ships that departed from England during this time. It soon became a British staple and further emigrated worldwide. The guarded recipe remains the same although Heinz purchased the rights some time ago. The rest is now part of American history. Although you will find many variations worldwide, here is my humble contribution to this storied sauce.
Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup olive oil
8 large onions, roughly chopped
16 oz tamarind paste
½ cup minced garlic
½ cup minced ginger
8 jalapenos, seeds removed and minced
¾ cup chopped anchovies
¾ cup tomato paste
8 whole cloves
½ cup freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups dark corn syrup
4 cup molasses
3 qts cider vinegar
1 qt dark beer
2 cups orange juice
1 qt water
4 lemons, zest and juice only
4 limes, zest and juice only
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, and Jalapenos and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the anchovies, tomato paste, cloves, pepper, corn syrup, molasses, white vinegar, dark beer, orange juice, water, lemon and lime. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 hours, or until it naps the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and refrigerate. Yield: 6 qts
P.S. A simple mixture of one part Worcestershire Sauce, three parts butter and garlic salt to taste makes a wonderful baste for any steak.
Chef TJ & CJ
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