The Fiver – Top Five British Condiments and What to Eat with Them – Which One is Your Favorite?

In America and Britain, we love food. However, at some point, we felt that just the food itself wasn’t enough; we had to add something to it. We had to get that extra bit of flavor. Thus, man created sauces. Some people put saucers on top, others take their food and dip it in, and still others will use sauce as a marinade to cook the flavor right in. So some American may wonder what unique British condiments are out there and what they should eat them with. Well, your best mate at the Fiver is here to help you.

1. Mint Sauce

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Now, admittedly, this is one I balk at initially. To me, mint is something for after-dinner when you need your breath to stop smelling like stew. However, in Britain, mint sauce is readily put on meat, specifically on lamb. The sauce is made from finely chopped spearmint leaves, vinegar, and just a bit of sugar. Aside from lamb, mint sauce is also used with mushy peas in some areas. Mint sauce can also act as a substitute for fresh mint. It is a minty and sweet compliment to your lamb meal.

2. HP Brown Sauce

INDUSTRY HP 1

HP stands for “House of Parliament” and it’s the best brown sauce in Britain. It’s so beloved that it has approximately 73.8% of the market. Brown sauce is traditionally used with meat and has a spiced, tangy flavor to it. The best way I can describe it is that it could be the love child of A1 and Heinz 57. While it is acceptable to use with steak, as an ingredient in stews or soups, and shepherd’s pie, the best use of HP Sauce is with a bacon sandwich, also known as a bacon butty. It’s also one of the easiest British condiments to find in America.

3. Marmite

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The saying about Marmite is that you either love it or hate it. I’m in the latter camp, but I don’t tend to like most spreadable things that aren’t jellies, jams, or butter. Marmite is essentially beer waste, and represents the yeast leftover from the brewing process. German scientist Justus von Liebig discovered that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated into something edible in the late 19th Century, and in 1902, the Marmite Food Extraction Company was born in Burton upon Trent, England. It tends to pair more with savory foods, such as being spread over toast, dipped in crisps (potato chips), and even as a flavor of Twiglets, a crispy wheat-based snacks.

4. Heinz Salad Cream

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As a condiment producer, Heinz is all over the place in the United Kingdom and you can find their products in most restaurants and pubs. Salad cream is a yellowish condiment made with water, egg yolk, and spirit vinegar. As a condiment, it can be used not just as a salad dressing, but also as a sandwich spread. While largely unknown in the States until the 21st Century, many expats have created a demand for Salad Cream and now it’s carried by major grocery stores such as Wegmans, Publix, and Fresh & Easy (owned by British company Tesco).

5. Malt Vinegar

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Another staple of British condiments, malt vinegar is created from malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn into maltose, or malt sugar. Its condiment use is mostly reserved to a single dish—battered and fried cod, the primary dish in classic fish and chips. Now, I used to date a girl who loved putting the vinegar on her chips as well as her fish, which you’re welcome to do if you want to add a tangy flavor to your chips instead of dipping them in tomato ketchup. I, however, will judge you harshly for this. Malt vinegar is the perfect condiment for fish, and I always put some on before dipping my cod in tartar sauce.

Which one is your favorite? Which British condiments would be in your top 5?

Comments

  1. avatarJill Swanink says

    They all are my favourites and all can be found in by cupboards and fridge in Canada . the only difference is I can only find Cross and Blackwell salad cream not Heinz..You missed out Branston Pickle which I also have.

  2. avatarH says

    ,,,the only way to eat fish and chips is with lashings of salt and vinegar over all the fish and the chips – no ketchup – no sauce – no tartare – just salt and vinegar and lots of it – till the fish and chips mush up and soak in all that vinegary goodness….:-)

    • avatarMinerva says

      There aren’t nearly as many people buying Fish & Chips at a ‘chippy’ putting Tomato Sauce on their chips, as there is folks applying Malt Vinegar…..apart from anything, the vinegar is free…the sauce most often comes in sachets & you frequently have to buy them.

      The other thing I would say is that Salad Cream use is a deeply divided thing nowadays, much like that of Marmite. Mayonnaise is much more the thing now (thank goodness), & Salad Cream is so often the last bastion of ‘the lower end’ eatery.

      Oh &….that ‘Mint Sauce’ looks suspiciously like ‘Mint Jelly’ (& possibly of the worst commercial kind!)…..I’ve never seen a proper Mint Sauce made with vinegar heap up on a spoon like that. Just sayin…

  3. avatar says

    Correct. HP Sauce on a bacon butty, NOT ketchup. People who do this are wrong-diddly-wrong-wrong. Ketchup is for chips (fries). Vinegar is fine for either fish and chips (fries) or just chips (fries) on their own.
    Mint sauce for lamb, Horseradish for roast beef, apple sauce for pork and bread sauce with chicken.

  4. avatarKaren Lowe says

    Branston pickle is my favorite; on a turkey sandwich, it can’t be beat. And it must be mint sauce (a mixture of mint leaves and vinegar–mostly vinegar), not mint jelly which is gross.

  5. avatarTerry M. says

    I fell in love with Daddies sauce when I lived in England. My English wife can’t stand salad cream but I buy it now and then when I get a craving for it.

  6. avatar says

    My husband doesn’t do sauces with meat, but I can’t eat a roast without them. Mint sauce for lamb, horseradish sauce with beef, and apple sauce with pork. (Apparently you Americans eat apple sauce on its own as a dessert. Weird.) I love Marmite, but Bovril is where it’s at – on sausages, on toast, in a shepherd’s pie or gravy, we use it for everything.

  7. avatarDavid Griffin says

    Number 5 – You heathen!!!! Malt vinegar should go over the fish AND the chips, with salt. No Ketchup, no Tartar sauce (save that for McDonalds and Burger King).
    We couldn’t always afford the fish but a bag of chips with salt and vinegar was wonderful. Personally, I prefer Cod Roe and Chips to Fish and Chips.
    You also missed out Branston Pickle (an absolutely essential part of a Ploughman’s Lunch), Piccallilli (marvellous with Salads), Horseradish Sauce (A perfect compliment to rare roast beef) and Colmans Mustard (so much better and stronger than French’s mustard and all those weak namby-pamby concoctions they call mustard in the US).
    And what about Curry sauce?

  8. avatarRoxanne Stickler says

    Love the HP Fruity Sauce more than the regular; agree it’s a ‘hybrid’ of A1 & Heinz. Salad Cream is similar to Miracle Whip Salad Dressing – a definite ‘NO’ in our house. I also agree about Marmite – that stuff is NASTY! ;)

  9. avatarSheila keshev says

    Once in Israel I found HP but it was very expensive. I would love to know if any of the others are available here.

    • avatarJillian with a J says

      Loads of Brit Stores/supplies on line. Not cheap but…. just do a search for British foods or something like that. I use one in Massachusetts and they’re very reliable.

  10. avatarCarole says

    Real Mint sauce not Jelly as used in the US with Lamb and peas (not just Mushy) Branston Pickle is wonderful on sandwiches especially cheese. Heinz 57 is great with Bacon and other meats just like HP. Sauce. Horseradish is a “must” with beef such as primerib. Hot Mustard such as Coleman’s is also great with meat.
    Pickle Onions the large malt vinegar kind I love with fish and chips as well as with a Plowmans Lunch or cheese sandwich.
    Fish and Chips must be covered in Malt vinegar for my liking and nothing else. In fact, I like malt vinegar on my foods that are fried such as liver and bacon.

  11. avatarPeter Kenward says

    I live in Argentina and have all of these here with me except Salad Cream. But Mayonnaise is readily available here and is what the rest of the world put on salad anyway! I would add Horseradish sauce and Coleman’s mustard to the list, both served with beef. And there’s plenty of that here!

  12. avatarRobi says

    I like em all! Marmite has had some bad press lately so I swore off it for a couple of years. I now have a little jar in my cupboard and love it spread thinly on an English muffin or any good quality toast at breakfast time. Not as thick as it used to be but still better than the Down Under competitor Vegemite! Don’t forget the chutneys! Oh, I do like mint sauce on new potatoes too! Happy 4th to all our American cousins!

  13. avatartitch says

    What’s wrong with putting vinegar over both the fish and chips? Of course you have to! I don’t have sauces with mine. That’s just not right. Usually rock and chips from my local chippy. With a saveloy sausage.Yum.
    But Marmite, I’m definitely in the ‘hate it’ camp. Just the smell of it makes me want to throw up. No thank you!! Brown sauce with a bacon butty or I usually have some with a steak and kidney pie.
    All this talk of food is making me hungry!

  14. avatar says

    I would take out the Marmite & add in Piccallili. All of these are available in my part of Canada (southern Ontario). However, In the US Meijer stores sell some, Kroger stores sell Piccallili & sometimes Salad Cream but a really good substitute for Salad Cream is Marzetti’s Original Slaw dressing. It looks, smells & tastes EXACTLY the same & I have bought it from WalMart in MIchigan & southern Indiana. In my family, we always add finely chopped onion to our mint sauce and I love it with fish & chips.

  15. avatar says

    Funny just today i found a jar of salad cream in the damaged isle of my local grocery here in Indiana. The top was cracked and it was marked down to 99¢. It’s delicious and going on a burger later tonight :-) So If your from the midwest and looking for it, they have it at Stracks.

    I’ve been putting malt vinegar on my fries since i was little. My friends all thought i was disturbed haha.

  16. avatarlokelautoo says

    My very favorite is the HP brown sauce. Yum. I also like fruity sauce which I cannot find here.

  17. avatarBarbs says

    HP on corned beef sandwiches and scrambled eggs a must. Mmmm good. Love horseradish on beef, apples with pork. Mango chutney with sausages. English mustard on ham, Coleman’s of course. Always malt vinegar of fish and chips. Mushy peas require sugar, vinegar and a bit of mint sauce. Always mint sauce with lamb, unless it is hot pot. Used to enjoy Marmite, it is full of B vitamins, You Forgot Lyle’s golden syrup on porridge. Lots of good English food.

  18. avatar says

    I love Marmite–I had it the first time I went to England (too long ago). It wasn’t until recently that I was able to get it regularly in the Midwestern US, mostly from online stores, though some grocers carry it. HP sauce is also great, though I discovered it just a few years ago. I think it’s tangier than A1.

  19. avatarCharlotte Ellis says

    My friend in England told me that most people there no longer put malt vinegar on fish and chips but use tartar sauce now. She laughed when I said I needed to put malt vinegar on because I was in England

    • avatarJayne Emma says

      Hi ! I don’t know what part of the country your friends from but I have never heard of anyone not having vinegar and salt on their chips! Up North in Yorkshire where I live people mostly eat Haddock rather than Cod, as Cods considered a ‘dirty fish’ because it eats all sorts of things from the bottom of the sea. Also you have to have mushy peas yum,yum! Tartar sauce we have with scampi, and another sauce no ones mentioned Worcester sauce!

  20. avatarDJ Darbary says

    Nice one.

    Here, in India, Marmite is available in high-end supermarkets and speciality stores. Coleman’s Hot English Mustard likewise, but one or two local players offer very satisfactory substitutes.

    While Marmite, by itself, is a little too strong for my taste, I find that it lifts bread-&-butter from the mundane to the sublime. Mix uniformly into the butter before spreading on fresh bread. Add a hard-boiled egg, salt, pepper & tomato slices for Robert’s your father’s brother.

  21. avatarBoston Karen says

    How is Salad Cream different from mayonnaise? It seems to have the same ingredients. Plus, I agree with everyone — malt vinegar goes on chips, too, and tartar sauce is a desecration of good fish!

  22. avatar says

    Marmite is not a condiment! It is eaten in the same manner as jam or marmalade. English mustard is *the* British condiment to me. There is no mustard like it that I’ve ever tried. Miss it a lot now I live in the US.

    • avatarMinerva says

      The comment re Marmite is inaccurate depending on how you choose to use it…..if spread solely on bread or whatever, then your comment is valid…..if however, it is used (as many do) to flavour soups, stews, cheese on toast etc, etc…then it is indeed a ‘condiment’, as it is used as a flavouring, not as a ‘spread’.

  23. avatarSusan Wilkins says

    Ah Marmite. I tried it the first year I went to Scotland and get the urge for it now and then. Have a jar in the cabinet and it’s great on a nice piece of french bread with a good sharp cheddar cheese. Pop it under the broiler for long enough to melt the cheese and it’s delicious!

  24. avatarWarrior41882 says

    I love a thick, fried pork chop with Apple sauce.
    Mint sauce with my lamb.
    HP sauce with my bacon and eggs.
    Gotta have the Malt Vinegar with my fish and chips.
    Kinda like gravy on my chips as well, I think thats more Canadian though.
    Guess my parents passed a good English palate on to me.

  25. avatarPam says

    I’m the odd American that doesn’t really like ketchup. I LOVE malt vinegar and put it on both fish and fries, aka chips. I assume the salad cream is similar to our Miracle Whip, which I find nasty but my family loves. I’ve tried Marmite and it was ok, but not something I would eat on a regular basis.

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