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Worcestershire Sauce - Japanese Encyclopedia

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Worcestershire sauce is a beloved condiment in Japan. Originally from England, it is an indispensable topping for Japanese dishes like okonomiyaki and yakisoba.

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What Is Worcestershire Sauce?

Worcestershire sauce, a familiar condiment in Japan, is said to have gotten its start in the mid-nineteenth-century in the English town of Worcester. A decade after it was first manufactured in Japan - around 1887 - various Worcestershire sauce companies began springing up all over Japan. 120-odd years later, Worcestershire sauce has become such a staple on Japanese dining tables that in Japan, the term 'sauce' refers to Worcestershire sauce by default.

While at first, Japanese Worcestershire sauce was of the silky and easy to pour variety, there are now many types of Worcestershire sauce, including a thick Worcestershire sauce and tonkatsu sauce. Many other sauces have been derived from a Worcestershire sauce base by adjusting its viscosity and adding different seasonings: okonomiyaki sauce, yakisoba sauce, takoyaki sauce, doro sauce and more. As a condiment, Worcestershire sauce has been modified to fit every dish it pairs with.

Worcestershire Sauce’s Original Ingredients

Worcestershire sauce is made from onions, garlic, tomatoes, apples and other fruits and vegetables in liquid and puree form, as well as salt, sugar, vinegar and several different spices. These ingredients are combined and fermented to create the sauce.

Actually, Worcestershire sauce was first produced unintentionally. A housewife in the English city of Worcester is said to have created it by storing cut-up vegetables in a pot with spices, salt and vinegar to keep them from going bad, which fermented and reduced into liquid. In addition to the flavors of the original ingredients, you can taste a spiciness and depth to the sauce.

Food That Goes Well With Worcestershire Sauce

We will introduce the Japanese dishes that go best with Worcestershire sauce, which you’ll want to try when you visit Japan.

1. Korokke (Croquettes)

Made of mashed potatoes, ground meat and onions, these shaped patties are dipped in flour and egg, then rolled in panko breading and deep-fried. Worcestershire sauce is the perfect condiment for a croquette. They are so popular you can guarantee they’ll be available at any convenience store or supermarket.

2. Menchi Katsu (Minced Meat Cutlet)

Ground meat and onions are mixed by hand and dipped in flour and egg, then rolled in panko breading and deep-fried.

3. Aji Fry (Fried Horse Mackerel)

Horse mackerel, a fish variety caught in Japan, is sliced into thirds and deboned. The pieces are dipped in flour and egg, then rolled in panko breading and deep-fried.

These three dishes are commonly made at home, and Japanese children get used to putting Worcestershire sauce on them from a young age. The sauce also goes very well with cabbage, which accompanies fried cutlets and other deep-fried food without fail. By all means, try topping your food with Worcestershire sauce.

Recipes Using Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is easy to use as an ingredient. Not limited to serving as a topping on a completed dish, it is often used as the deciding factor in the flavor of the following dishes.

1. Sauce Yakisoba

Saute pork, onions, vegetables, cabbage and other vegetables, then add the noodles and stir-fry them together. Once everything has heated through, flavor the noodles with Worcestershire sauce. The aroma of sizzling Worcestershire and the complex flavor of the rendered meat and vegetables blends together into a rich sauce that coats the noodles in every delicious bite.

2. Tonteki

Pan-fry slightly thick slices of pork loin together with garlic, then cover in Worcestershire sauce and simmer. The moisture in the Worcestershire sauce will cook out, leaving behind a thick, richly flavored gravy. Tonteki is delicious served atop a bowl of white rice.

3. Monjayaki


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Dissolve flour in water, then blend in soba, cabbage, bacon, seafood, mochi and other preferred ingredients. Season with Worcestershire sauce, then pour the mixture out onto a sizzling hot grill. The somewhat charred pieces are crunchy and delicious. Eat this Tokyo invention as you scrape it up with a spatula.

Recipes featuring Worcestershire sauce can be said to suit the palate of the common folk in Japan, and there are many dishes which are sure to be beloved by everyone. When you come to Japan, by all means, try them out for yourself.

If you’re interested in Japanese cooking that doesn’t involve Worcestershire sauce, check out our 5 Traditional Japanese Foods You Don’t Want To Miss and 10 Selected Restaurants In Tokyo + Japanese Food Guide articles.

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