One of my favorite restaurants is Kajitsu, as I've written a couple of awesome reviews about the place. Chef Nishihara is simply a genius. His creativity and flavoring, using only vegetables (it's a vegan/shojin restaurant), is just amazing.
I saw an article in last week's Times Magazine, where Mark Bittman cooked with Chef Nishihara. I was blown away. He made vegan Worcestershire sauce. I've made sauces before, from molé to demi-glace to simple dashi. But who knew Worcestershire sauce could be home made??!!
I had to do it. But the original recipe is too much, so I cut corners here and there.
Here is my adaptation.
Soak a piece of kombu (about 6 inch) and 3 large (6 small) dried shiitake mushroom in a cup of water overnight.
They are reconstituted the next morning.
Cut 1 large onion, 4 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, and piece of ginger into small pieces.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 bay leaves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon sansho peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns or green peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground, dried sage
1 tablespoon soybean powder (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ small dried hot red chili
Original recipe says to use fresh tomato, but I bought canned tomato, since the quality of tomato in this season isn't that great anyways. Puree 3 lbs tomato.
Strain the tomatoes into a large pot.
You don't want seeds to be in the sauce.
Make dashi. Here I cut corners. Put re-hydrated kombu into 8 cups of water, and simmer for 1 hour (instead of 2).
Add 2 cups of vegetable trimmings. Simmer for one more hour (again, instead of two). The more variety of vegetables, the better.
After two hours of simmering kombu and vegetable together, the stock is now done.
8 cups of water is boiled down to barely 3 cups.
For tomato base, add vegetables, and thinly sliced re-hydrated mushroom, and simmer for about an hour.
Add all the spices and simmer for 10 minutes. As soon as you dump all the spices in the sauce, you will smell Worcestershire sauce. This is amazing.
Blend this mixture, then put everything back into the pot.
From here on, the process was a bit hectic, and I don't have all the pics.
Pour 1 cup of red wine into the kombu/vegetable dashi. Boil for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook down pureed tomato base for another 10 minutes.
Pour 1/3 of tomato base into dashi/red wine through strainer. Cook another 10 minutes. And here you have homemade Worcestershire sauce. Color is a lot lighter than store bought kind. The flavor is a lot softer, but you definitely taste Worcestershire sauce.
This recipe made two kinds of sauce, one thin (above), and the other thick (below). In the remaining tomato base, add 1 grated apple, and cook for another 10 minutes. You now have a thick sauce. The recipe didn't call for it, but I blended it to make it extra smooth. Adding an apple changed the flavor drastically, and it's awesome.
It was a great experience, especially knowing that you don't question the ingredients of the sauce. But I don't think I will make this again, looking at all the mess I created...
I made oven-baked tonkatsu, and this sauce is not your typical Worcestershire sauce, but quite addictive. I also made panko-crusted mahi-mahi last night, and used the sauce (one bite with thin sauce, the other bite thick sauce), and it was very good.
Chef Nishihara is a genius. I haven't tasted chef's sauce, but a big difference he told me would be that he saves all the vegetable trimmings (carrots, cabbage, onion, turnips, leeks) and make a large batch of dashi, with kombu. I think the depth of his dashi is far more intense than what we can make at home though.
Good experience nonetheless.