I usually have a bottle of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce hanging out in my pantry, ready for when I crave some Caesar salad or a Bloody Mary. However, on one recent occasion, I reached for the Worcestershire sauce, only to discover (with dismay) an empty bottle.
My successful bids at reconstructing French’s yellow mustard and Heinz’s neon green pickle relish ensured I would give Worcestershire sauce a go. After inspecting the ingredient list on the back of the bottle—distilled white vinegar, molasses, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, and chili pepper extract—I got to thinking, why not give it a try? I can make this.
A little research revealed that Lea & Perrin’s uses a long fermentation process to achieve its distinct flavor, not something I was willing to undertake since I wanted a version that could put together rather quickly. It took some patience but after adjusting ratios, trying different spices, and tasting, tasting, tasting, I got something that was similar to the Lea & Perrin’s original, yet distinctly my own.
My Worcestershire sauce was deep, robust, tangy, and brimming with umami. And, I gotta tell you, it makes one hell of a Bloody Mary.
While the classic Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce relies on a fermentation process to get its distinctive taste, my homemade version relies on a simple mixture of spices and other boldly flavored ingredients to get its intense bite—reminiscent of the original.
Once everything is prepped and ready to go, combine the black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, onion powder, and cayenne together, ensuring that they’ll toast evenly in the pan.
Toast the dried spices for a minute, boosting their intensity and flavor. The spices are done when you can smell them and wisps of smoke rise from the pan. At this point, immediately transfer them to a small bowl so they don’t burn.
Meanwhile, combine the white vinegar, water, molasses, fish sauce, and tamarind paste.
It’s sauce time. To begin, sauté the shallots until softened and nicely browned, deepening their flavor.
Once the shallots are browned, add the anchovies, garlic, and the toasted spice mixture. After about 30 seconds in the pan, the heat will draw out their flavors and aromas.
Add your liquid ingredients.
Then bring the whole mixture to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. During this time the flavors will combine and deepen—I like to give it an hour or so.
Once cooled, strain the Worcestershire sauce through a fine metal strainer and discard the remaining solids.
After straining, you can use the condiment right away, or for better results allow the Worcestershire sauce to “age” in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. The flavors will intensify and become more complex.