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
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
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.
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
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
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?