The main ingredients that go into Worcestershire sauce include vinegar, molasses, tamarind, hot chilis, and a warming spice like clove or cinnamon. Many varieties also include anchovies, so keep an eye out for that if you're a vegetarian.
When used in combination like this, these ingredients create a balance of flavors that hit all the main points on your tongue - sweet and salty, spicy and sour. A few tablespoons added to a braise or a soup help to deepen the background umami flavors and perk up the high notes.
Aside from braises and soups, we use Worcestershire sauce to add dimension to marinades, bean dishes, stir fries, pan sauces, and even bloody mary mixes! It's so versatile that Saveur Magazine named Worcestershire sauce in its Top 100 list this past year and included a recipe for making it at home (link below).
A little of this sauce definitely goes a long way. If you're not used to using it, start by adding one teaspoon at a time and tasting the dish between each teaspoon. We often add it at the end of cooking when we're looking for that little "something extra" to add depth to our dish.
Are you a fan of this sauce? Where do you use it the most?
• Recipe for Homemade Worcestershire Sauce from Saveur Magazine