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ChrisTaylor

Vegemite, Marmite, Promite...yeast extract spreads

44 posts in this topic

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.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

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

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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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.

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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.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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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.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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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.

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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).

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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 (log)

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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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.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

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

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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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.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

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

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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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.

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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).

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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.seriouseats.com/2010/01/how-to-make-the-best-chili-ever-recipe-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.

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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.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

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

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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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.

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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.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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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?

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. . . .

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.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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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.


Sian

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate, and that's kinda the same thing really."

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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".


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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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?


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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