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Vegemite, Marmite, Promite...yeast extract spreads

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#1 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 04:03 AM

As a kid my all time and forever favourite thing was my dad's spaghetti bolognese. My dad would use however much beef mince my mum had leftover from making rissoles (translation into non-Australian English: meatballs in instant gravy), 'some' onion, 'some' jarred garlic, 'some' curry powder, 'some' tomato paste and 'some' Vegemite. Vegemite is an Australian product but it is, for the purposes I'm looking at, basically the same thing as Promite and Marmite.

Over the years I've cooked many variations of bolognese but none of them, no matter how many different ingredients go in, taste as good as my dad's version. The sauce, no matter whether I use mince (fresh or supermarket-grade), diced meat or a combination thereof, is never as 'meaty' as what his sauce was. And he wasn't using organic free range whatever from the back paddock: it was really cheap butcher's mince or supermarket mince.

The other day I finally worked up the nerve to spoon Vegemite into my bolognese. And, you know what? I finally cracked the recipe. It was the Vegemite, odd as it sounds, that gave my dad's bolognese sauce that real meaty quality. You can't taste it in the end product. It's not like what you imagine buttering a steak all over with Vegemite to be like. After a hour or so simmering away, it just makes the meat part of the sauce's flavour taste meatier.

Has anyone else experimented with the various *mite products avaliable? I'm meaning to get around to experimenting with other dishes--I see potential in other braises (say, pie fillings, short ribs, lamb shanks) and, possibly--and maybe more controversially, things like pepper sauce for steak.

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#2 BonVivant

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:15 AM

sometimes i use Bovril to make a little sauce after cooking a steak. also, i like a slice of (old) cheese on my Bovril/Vegemite/Marmite smeared toasted dark bread.

do try the Guinness Marmite, too.

#3 mkayahara

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:28 AM

I've never had Marmite or Vegemite (heck, I've never ever heard of Promite!), though they've always intrigued me, since I'm always curious about "love it or hate it" foods. If I understand it correctly, they're basically autolyzed yeast products, right? So they're going to be packed with free glutamates, which would likely work synergistically with the glutamates in the beef and tomatoes in your bolognese, much like anchovy paste or fish sauce would. Sounds like a great use for the product, and I imagine it would be a good umami-enhancer in vegetarian dishes, too.
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#4 nickrey

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

I'm Australian and I haven't tried it. Tend to boost the Umami in my dishes using Heston Blumenthal's suggestion of putting star anise in. I supplement this with dried and powdered shiitake mushroom powder. Will try vegemite in next one.

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#5 annachan

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 04:25 PM

I grew up on Bovril and just love that stuff! Used to just mixed it in hot water to drink as a broth or add some to rice porridge.

Now that we're in Australia, I have been sneaking Vegemite in my cooking. When I want some extra flavor that I would usually use stock for, but don't want to open a box of stock just for that, I put in a spoonful of vegemite. It's been working great. I've added it to gravy, to stew and even some to a laksa like broth.

#6 Luke

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 05:22 PM

I achieve a very similar outcome with pasta sauce by using 2 or 3 medium sized anchovies. After 2 hours of slow simmering the anchovies dissolve, and there is no detectable anchovy flavour (I have fed it to plenty of people who can't stand the smell, let alone taste of anchovies).

I'm not sure it accentuates the meaty flavour as Vegemite would, but it certainly adds a depth of flavour that is hard to describe. I will try the Vegemite to compare (can't stand eating the stuff myself but my children like it).

#7 lesliec

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:48 PM

Thanks for the inspiration, Chris. I have some beef cheeks in the freezer waiting for me to get them ready for a good sous videing (30 hours/70°C). A wodge of Marmite would be an interesting addition to the bag.


Edited becaue Internet Explorer 9 is doing odd things with formatting tags in eG!

Edited by lesliec, 17 March 2011 - 06:49 PM.

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#8 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 02:02 AM

I'm Australian and I haven't tried it. Tend to boost the Umami in my dishes using Heston Blumenthal's suggestion of putting star anise in. I supplement this with dried and powdered shiitake mushroom powder. Will try vegemite in next one.


I've tried his method. I think that Vegemite has a more noticeable impact on the flavours. Possibly not what you want if you're aiming for a subtle flavour, tho', but to me bolognese is all about boldness.

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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#9 nickrey

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 06:05 AM

My thought with vegemite in sauces would be to avoid adding any extra salt until the end of cooking. Treat it like fish sauce.

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#10 &roid

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:02 AM

It's basically full of MSG.

http://www.guardian....drink.features3

#11 mkayahara

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:10 AM

It's basically full of MSG.

http://www.guardian....drink.features3

You say that like it's a bad thing! :wink:
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#12 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 04:40 PM

My thought with vegemite in sauces would be to avoid adding any extra salt until the end of cooking. Treat it like fish sauce.


I added it at the start because I figured the very strong flavour would take a while to mellow out--and because Blumenthal adds his signature star anise pod at the start, when he's caramelising the onions.

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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#13 Crouton

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 05:07 PM

Would adding marmite taste different than adding straight msg? I picked up a jar of marmite out of curiosity a while back but have never been really sure what to do with it.

#14 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 09:36 PM

http://www.atablefor...ite-cheesecake/

My friend made this. Turned out alright, I'm told. Must have: he sold it, as a malt cheesecake mind, through work and people responded well.

Chris Taylor

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#15 teapot

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 10:14 PM

Speaking of Bovril -- back in the 60s my mom would give us kids the task of making bovril toasts for the cocktail parties. Mix a little bovril into butter, shmear on some baguette slices, grate some parm over the top and bake until crisped. These were addictively good - the perfect salty counterpoint to a dry martini. (If you make them, make lots, they keep very well).

#16 patrickamory

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 07:50 PM

I love Marmite. But disregard my taste for it, which many find odd - my boyfriend and others loved a chili I made where it was a secret ingredient.

The recipe was, more or less, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's chili on Serious Eats:

http://www.seriousea...super-bowl.html

Intellectually I prefer a purer chili - the sort that John Thorne describes in the "Bowl of Texas Red' chapter in Serious Eats. The three ingredients - dried chiles, beef, and fat. But Kenji's chili was absolutely killer. I recommend giving it a try.

#17 BadRabbit

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 01:34 PM

This trick is no longer available to the Danes. Denmark bans Marmite.

http://www.dailymail...s.html?ITO=1490

#18 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 02:02 PM

Danes and others may be able to access umami paste, tho'. In the 'epicure' section of yesterday's paper I saw a write up on umami paste (not sure if it's a local product, but presumably the same sort of thing can be found elsewhere). Umami paste is made from tomato paste, garlic, anchovy paste, parmesan, porcini powder and Lord knows what else.

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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#19 annachan

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 05:22 PM

Danes and others may be able to access umami paste, tho'. In the 'epicure' section of yesterday's paper I saw a write up on umami paste (not sure if it's a local product, but presumably the same sort of thing can be found elsewhere). Umami paste is made from tomato paste, garlic, anchovy paste, parmesan, porcini powder and Lord knows what else.


It's supposed to be coming to Australia. Interested in trying it out.

#20 haresfur

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:28 AM

I've been playing with Vegemite in sauces like chili or spaghetti. It certainly can't hurt if used judiciously. Recently, I've used My First Vegemite, which gives you greater control on the salt.

I wonder if the Danes are worried about the folate - as was falsely rumored to be a concern in the US. Folate can mask a serious deficiency in B-12. I can't believe that's a huge issue, except in rare cases and the benefits IMO would outweigh the problems. Marmite has heaps of B-12, anyway. Kraft's website doesn't list B-12 in vegemite but do for My First.
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#21 annachan

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:30 AM

I've been playing with Vegemite in sauces like chili or spaghetti. It certainly can't hurt if used judiciously. Recently, I've used My First Vegemite, which gives you greater control on the salt.


How does My First Vegemite compare to regular Vegemite in terms of flavor? Is it just less salty or actually has a different taste to it?

#22 Mjx

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:09 AM

. . . .

Has anyone else experimented with the various *mite products avaliable? I'm meaning to get around to experimenting with other dishes--I see potential in other braises (say, pie fillings, short ribs, lamb shanks) and, possibly--and maybe more controversially, things like pepper sauce for steak.


I add it to all sorts of things all the time. If something tastes like it could use a boost (sauces, soups, whatever), I reach for the brown jar.
Incidentally, no matter how experimental you may be feeling, do not try even the tiniest amount in hot chocolate (even if you make it without milk, as I do), regardless of how well you may manage to rationalize the experiment (this may seem like an unnecessary warning, but I like to believe there are others out there who may have at least momentarily considered this).


. . . .I wonder if the Danes are worried about the folate - as was falsely rumored to be a concern in the US. Folate can mask a serious deficiency in B-12. I can't believe that's a huge issue, except in rare cases and the benefits IMO would outweigh the problems. Marmite has heaps of B-12, anyway. Kraft's website doesn't list B-12 in vegemite but do for My First.


Based on my personal experience, I'd have to say that Danes aren't worried about all that much, nutrition-wise, although they do talk about concerns quite a lot. Essentially, the government seems to have an issue with fortified foods, because (if I understood the conversation correctly, which is open to question, given the iffy quality of my Danish) they want to prevent their being pushed as nutritional supplements in their own right; there was a similar fuss some years back over Red bull.
Incidentally, I could almost swear that my usual place for getting Marmite still has it... I'm not going to identify the place, since I don't want to get the owners in trouble, and I want to be able to get my hands on it.

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#23 AnythingButPlainChocolate

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:17 AM

My father used to be a chef and used to use a mixture of Marmite and British (hot) mustard in the gravy for meals. Years later I only found this out after serving him the very same thing due to cooking veggie gravy for my other half, sneaky beef(ish) taste.
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#24 haresfur

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:57 PM


I've been playing with Vegemite in sauces like chili or spaghetti. It certainly can't hurt if used judiciously. Recently, I've used My First Vegemite, which gives you greater control on the salt.


How does My First Vegemite compare to regular Vegemite in terms of flavor? Is it just less salty or actually has a different taste to it?

I find it a bit hard to say because I find the salt so overwhelming in regular Vegemite. I have MightyMite at home because it is a bit less salty. To me, My First tastes quite malty and maybe not so "dark".
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#25 judiu

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 10:48 AM

I dearly love either Marmite or Bovril on buttered toast, and have rescued many a blandish beef stew or pot roast with a dollop of Bovril, which I now can only find at British grocery stores here in S. Florida. :angry: Does any know any local sources for it here?
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#26 ScoopKW

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 10:55 AM

Can anyone in Denmark explain to me WHY Marmite has been banned? What is the big deal about "fortified" foods?
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#27 BadRabbit

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 11:29 AM

Can anyone in Denmark explain to me WHY Marmite has been banned? What is the big deal about "fortified" foods?


I imagine for no other reason than that their politicians feel they can run the citizens' lives better than than the individuals can themselves and the ones in power choose to exert their power to do so even in areas in which they are ill informed (just like everywhere else in the world). Hell, a NY politician just recently tried to get salt banned and banning fortified foods makes a whole lot more sense than that lunacy.

Edited by BadRabbit, 26 May 2011 - 11:30 AM.


#28 Mjx

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:12 AM

Can anyone in Denmark explain to me WHY Marmite has been banned? What is the big deal about "fortified" foods?


What I said, upthread. Now you may be thinking, 'So, why not regulate what marketers are allowed to say, instead of abolishing something damn tasty?' To which I would have to reply, 'I've no idea.'

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#29 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:17 AM

Big Bowl
Hot Steamy Cooked Egg Noodles
Butter
Marmite

Stir and Eat
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#30 Marya D.

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 03:29 PM

I learned somewhere, from some cooking guru, that one shouldn't be afraid to put soy sauce into all sort of things you wouldn't normally associate it with. Spaghetti sauce, french onion soup, chili, what ever. One of my favorite marinades for beef has since become, half light soy and half white wine.
No one's ever once said "This tastes Chinese."





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