Worcestershire Sauce in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Worcestershire Sauce is a condiment manufactured by Lea and Perrins in Worcester, England. It is a fermented mixture of malt vinegar made from barley, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, Tamarind extract, onions, garlic, spice and 'flavouring' (according to the bottle). It is widely used as a flavouring in stews and is one of the key ingredients in a Bloody Mary cocktail. It is also used in some Caesar salad recipes and improves cheese on toast immeasurably. Worcestershire Sauce is widely used as a dipping sauce in Chinese cuisine.
Worcestershire Sauce is often referred to as Worcester Sauce, although the latter is the generic name used by the many companies who have copied Lea and Perrins' recipe.
The story behind Worcestershire Sauce is that in the early 1800s Lord Sandys came back from his travels in Bengal, India and asked his local chemists, John Lea and William Perrins, to come up with a copy of the sauce he has eaten while overseas. The pair also prepared some for themselves but when they tried it for it unpalatable. A few years later they stumbled across some bottles in the cellar of their chemist shop and decided to try it again. They found that it had fermented and matured and was delicious and they realised there was a commercial opportunity. By the 1830s it was widely distributed and very popular across Britain.
In May 2007 a survey by the UKTV Food television channel saw viewers voting Worcester Sauce as the British food that has had the most influence on global cuisine, followed by Cheddar cheese, Yorkshire pudding, clotted cream and black pudding.