Even after we've created and tested over 10,000 recipes, some are hard to give away.
We've debated this one for a long time. Most of our friends know we make our own Worcestershire sauce. We've been playing with the exact recipe for years, changing this, adding that, and never wanting to put it into print.
Because it's so special. Chefs often think of Worcestershire sauce as their kitchen secret: they add a little to salad dressings (even vinaigrettes), marinades, sauces, and pan glazes. It's sometimes the spike in curries, braises, and stews. You can't make a good Caesar salad without it--or a decent Bloody Mary. We also like it straight up, a flavor-packed marinade for skirt or hanger steaks before they hit the grill.
Believe us: this stuff has no relation to those bottled, too-sweet, unaromatic versions. If you want to take your cooking to new heights, you'll make your own. Promise. You'll never look back. So here's how.
To make a quart and a half (you'll want a lot and there's no point in wimping out now), start by combining all this in a very large saucepan, probably a Dutch oven:
- 2 cups (500 ml) malt vinegar (look for it from online grocers)
- 2 cups (500 ml) distilled white vinegar (the strong stuff)
- 1 cup (250 ml) molasses (preferably unsulfured molasses)
- 1 cup (250 ml) soy sauce (don't even think about low-sodium here)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) tamarind concentrate (look for it in the Latin American aisle with the condiments)
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
- 1/2 tablespoon cracked white peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 4 to 6 juicy tinned anchovy fillets, chopped
- 12 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 12 to 15 chiles de árbol, stemmed, then chopped (all the seeds, too)
- 6 smashed, peeled garlic cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise pod
Yep, empty out the spice drawer. Stir it all around in the pan and bring it to a full simmer over medium-high heat. Then knock the heat down to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
And yes, anchovies. Worcestershire sauce is probably modeled on garum, an ancient Roman condiment made from the juice of salted, often fermented anchovies. If you've never had garum--look for it from suppliers online--then you've never really had a truly great grilled artichoke. Just sayin'.
While the cauldron's going, melt 1 cup (200 grams) white granulated sugar in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Pour in the sugar, leave it be for a bit, then stir it with a heat-safe spatula. Continue cooking until it's pretty dark, not black, but definitely beyond amber. More flavor, more flavor.
Crank the heat up under the cauldron, bring it to a full boil, and slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup. It'll foam and roil. Beware.
Stir until the sugar dissolves in the saucepan, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Pour the contents of the pan into a big glass jar (got mine at a big-box store), seal closed, and set it in the fridge to ripen for 3 to 4 weeks. Then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve (to catch even the ginger threads) and into smaller glass bottles or jars; seal these closed and store them in the fridge for up to 4 months. Bring a little as a house gift for your next dinner party. You'll be invited back. Soon. And often.