People are increasingly sceptical of advertising claims these days, but Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce really does stand head and shoulders above its competitors. Chef Nigel Slater praises the “piquant richness” that it can add to a dish. Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay use it, and Marco Pierre White loves it.
In a British supermarket, Lea & Perrins is the only Worcestershire sauce. Its competitors include soy sauce and Maggi seasoning. In the Yorkshire region there is also Henderson’s Relish, a kind of poor man’s Lea & Perrins.
Cheaper Worcestershire sauces are sold to the catering trade. These tend to be thin and watery, overly sweet and without much of the characteristic Lea & Perrins spice or tangy character.
Here’s how to make your own Worcestershire sauce:
Always use the finest ingredients you can find, and for best results, ferment in wooden barrels.
1. Pickle 18kg of shallots, unpeeled heads of garlic and unpeeled red onions. Meanwhile, salt down 11kg of Spanish anchovies and leave to break down into a paste.
2. After your vegetables and anchovies have aged for three years, blend and add the following: 2.3kg of fresh raw green Fukien chilli peppers from China, 6.4kg of black tamarinds from Calcutta, 1kg cloves, 36 litres of soy sauce (Lea & Perrins have used hydrolysed vegetable protein since WWII, but previously used soy), ginger and “various fruits” (understood to include 225ml of essence of lemon). Blend and ferment together for three months.
3. Before bottling, add molasses, sugar (15kg), salt (4.5kg) and 82 litres of malt vinegar. Add water to get to the desired consistency.
Sure, you can pare down the scale, but the time involved means it’s much easier to just buy a bottle of Lea & Perrins than to make your own!