I love Worcestershire Sauce. I use it for simple things such as cheese on toast or one of the many ingredients in a Cottage pie. It was a surprise to find out that my favourite pasar malam food; the Ramly burger also uses Worcestershire Sauce. However this inconspicuous condiment has an interesting story that spans the east and west.
The story starts in 1835 Worcester, UK. It is said that Lord Marcus Sandys, an ex-governor of Bengal, approached chemists John Lea and William Perrins to make up a sauce from a recipe, which he had brought back from India. However some say that it could have been Mary Sandys Hill who had the recipe, and so the lord was in fact a lady.
In any case, the recipe was made but was deemed unpalatable for Messrs Lea and Perrins and was stored away. A year later, after spring-cleaning in the cellar, the concoction was tried again. To their amazement, the mixture had mellowed into an aromatic, piquant and appetising liquid.
All that is known of the secret recipe of the Worcestershire sauce are the ingredients: vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, molasses, tamarind, shallots, anchovies (not so common to India), ginger, chillies, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom.
Lea & Perrins’ product was exported worldwide, including Malaysia, where it was incorporated by Hainanese cooks into various dishes prepared for their British employers. Many of these dishes became part and parcel of Malaysian home cooking and still feature in some restaurants.
Termed Ang Moh Tau Eu (literally, white person’s soya sauce) in Hokkien, here are some Asian dishes known to contain Worcestershire Sauce:
- Chicken or Pork Chop (Worcestershire and soy sauce-flavoured gravy carrying softened fried onion rings)
- Chicken macaroni pie (an Anglo-Hainanese dish mainly seen in Penang, is always accompanied by Worcestershire sauce and freshly sliced chillies).
- Panggang Ikan (grilled banana leaf-wrapped seasoned whole fish),
- Roti Babi (stuffed French toast)
- Inchee Kabin (Malaysian Spiced Fried Chicken)
- Ramly Burger
The Ang Moh dishes:
- Sheppard’s Pie
- Baby Back Ribs
… And hundreds of others 🙂