4 British Condiments You Should Know
Plus HP Fruity which, who knew?
I have a soft spot for the United Kingdom, due in part to their commitment to sauces and condiments. Some might assume that this is to combat the perceived general dullness of traditional British fare or the tendency to cook meats to the consistency of shoe leather, but we are not here to trade in sweeping generalizations or derogatory stereotypes. I don’t particularly care why these delicious accouterments exist, I’m just awfully delighted that they do, and don’t really understand why we don’t have such wonders on this side of the pond.
Here are my favorite of the British bottled sauces and condiments, most of which are now fairly available Stateside.
Also referred to as brown sauce, this thick condiment is most similar to A-1 steak sauce here, but I find the complexity of HP Sauce much more interesting. It has things like tamarind and dates and tomatoes and vinegar in the secret recipe, and I love to put it in unexpected places, like on an egg sandwich or a baked potato, or on a bowl of rice with chicken. In the UK it is as ubiquitous as ketchup, and once you taste it, you’ll start thinking of ways to use it. I like the regular, but you can sometimes find the HP Fruity, which has the addition of mango, and is a bit lighter, making it pretty good with poultry and fish.
This jar of dark brown glop is sort of a cross between a chutney and a pickle relish, with all the best qualities of both. With vegetables like cauliflower, onion, carrot, rutabaga, and zucchini, blended with gherkins, apples, dates, vinegar, sugar and seasonings, you have a wallop of sweet and sour and sharp flavors with a great texture. It is a classic accompaniment to cheese and bread, but I also like it with roasted meats, particularly lamb and pork. It comes in both chunky and regular varieties.
The OG ketchup, pre-dating tomato ketchup, is essentially an umami bomb. The Watkins company still makes it, and while I don’t use it straight, it is a very useful product to have in the arsenal for bumping up the meatiness of sauces or stews, and adding some deep earthy notes to vegetable dishes. Try it instead of Worcestershire in your next bloody mary and watch your brunch guests swoon.
Last, but not least for me, is mint sauce. Not to be confused with mint jelly, that fluorescent green jiggly blob next to your steakhouse rack of lamb, but actual mint sauce which is a blend of mint leaves with sugar and vinegar that I love of course with lamb, but also as a dip for French fries, on top of peas, or on a cold chicken sandwich. Colmans, the same company that makes the mustard, makes a great jarred version.