Cooking With Worcestershire Sauce: The Dos And Don’ts

Worcestershire sauce is a quintessentially British condiment that is said to have originated in India or other parts of South Asia, no one is certain. While apocryphal stories about British aristocrats in India abound, what is agreed on is that it began as an attempt to mimic flavors from that part of the world by two chemists named Lea and Perrins. The result of their efforts has become one of the most popular sauces in the world. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you get the most from it.

Do use Worcestershire sauce in marinades.

Worcestershire sauce can be the sole ingredient or one of several in a marinade. Worcestershire sauce’s umami properties and sharp flavor make it perfect for seasoning meat and other savory ingredients before cooking.

The vinegar it contains is an important marinade component because of its ability to soften meat fibers thus tenderizing tough cuts. When used in hamburgers, Worcestershire sauce adds moisture that can keep burger patties juicy. The fact that it has a thin and watery consistency also aids in how well Worcestershire sauce is absorbed.

Do shake Worcestershire sauce before using it.

Some of the solid ingredients in the sauce tend to sink to the bottom, which means a good shake is necessary to distribute them evenly.

Do use Worcestershire sauce lightly.

Worcestershire sauce has a distinctive flavor that will stay in the background in most applications but has the potential to overwhelm if used in excess.

Do store Worcestershire sauce properly.

While it can last for a few months at room temperature, you can extend its shelf life considerably if you keep it in the refrigerator after opening.

Do use Worcestershire sauce in barbecue sauce.

One of the most popular ways to use Worcestershire sauce is on grilled meats. Its tanginess makes it a great tool for enhancing the acidity that barbecue sauces are supposed to have. In addition, it brings a depth of flavor from its molasses content and complexity from its spices. The shallots and garlic it contains can complement the sauce’s other savory ingredients. You can also use it to thin the sauce out to keep it from being too viscous.

Do use Worcestershire Sauce in English dishes.

Worcestershire sauce is an English sauce formulated for English taste preferences. While it was influenced by Indian or Southeast Asian flavors — it may have been trying to imitate fish sauce or kecap manis — it was still made by Englishmen. As an English sauce, it works well on English-style roasts and stews. You can use it as a marinade, in gravies or as a condiment served at the table. Traditional applications also include serving it with cheese on toast or in Bloody Mary cocktails.

Do use Worcestershire sauce in tomato-based preparations.

Worcestershire sauce pairs particularly well with tomato products, which is one of the reasons that it is so good in the most popular tomato cocktail, the Bloody Mary. Add it to everything from tomato soup to Bolognese sauce.

Don’t use Worcestershire sauce if you want a vegan seasoning.

While it is possible to find Worcestershire sauces without any animal products, the original version with the classic flavor profile will contain anchovies. Like the fish in fish sauce, the anchovies in Worcestershire sauce are there to enhance its umami profile and most likely account for some of the saltiness as well.