One of the best sauces I’ve ever had with meat has been Marmite sauce. The only bone I have to pick with that is that it’s not made of Vegemite. They are both salty bitter pastes made from the yeasty by-product of the beer-making process. Yet despite what many would think, Marmite and Vegemite are NOT one and the same, nor are they interchangeable. And the Aussie kid in me would vote for Vegemite any day, every day. But I digress.
(And have also possibly ruined my chances of ever becoming a Marmite ambassador.)
A sticky, sweet sauce often made with honey, thick soy sauce and just a smidgen of Marmite, and normally cooked with chicken, this Malaysian Chinese-style umami bomb was a favourite dish to order at family dinners.
One other thing that used to bug me about Marmite sauce was that so many restaurants were crazy stingy on the sauce. Some Marmite chicken I had in my meat-eating days barely tasted like they had any sauce on them at all.
To make up for the deprivation, my recipe features so much sauce it’s earning a place in the ‘Sauces and Pastes’ section of my recipe catalogue.
Replacing chicken is this remarkable mushroom called Eryngii, also known as King Oyster Mushroom. Native to North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and now commonly cultivated in Asia, this mushroom owes its popularity to its firm yet juicy, almost fat-like texture that can sear like meat, combined with an infallible knack for absorbing flavours.
Eryngii is also a great source of Vitamins B, protein, and contains a compound unique to the species called Lovastatin, which helps to manage cholesterol.
Another interesting thing about all mushrooms is that they are the only plant-based source of Vitamin D, on the condition that they get exposed to sunlight for at least 15 minutes before cooking and eating them.
Replacing honey is date syrup, which can be found at Turkish or Arabic food stores. If you can’t find date syrup, you can also use maple syrup (if you have the budget!), agave nectar, Korean rice syrup or any other liquid sweetener. Or simply revert to honey, if you don’t mind making it a vegetarian dish instead of a vegan one.
What I love about using Eryngii in this recipe is its largely neutral taste, and that it has the ideal thickness and surface area for maximum sauce absorption. This dish is juicy to the last bite.
As for the topic of the taste of Marmite itself… you either love it or you hate it. But if you’re not an enthusiast, there’s a chance you MIGHT still like this dish. I find that the Marmite is used to magnify the savoury quality of the sauce, more than turn it into a Marmite-flavoured sauce.
The big question from Vegemite lovers is: can the Marmite in this recipe be replaced with Vegemite? Gram for gram, no. Vegemite is pretty much like Marmite on steroids and would be far too overpowering to use. But using Vegemite at all is not impossible. I have just not been successful yet in finding the right amount to substitute with. I know I will find the answer soon!
This sauce goes particularly great with rice… then again, I haven’t explored eating it with any other carb. I can imagine it also going well with potatoes, though.
A fascinating example of when a creative product from the West falls into the creative hands of the East, this dish is ready to surprise foodies the world over.
Eryngii Mushrooms in Marmite Sauce
A unique Malaysian-Chinese presentation using a unique British product, this dish exploits the sponge-like properties of Eryngii mushroom and the knockout umami effect of Marmite. Best eaten over rice
- 200g Eringyii mushroom
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/2 bulb garlic, chopped finely
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp Marmite
- 4 tbsp date syrup
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
- 1/3 cup water
- Step 1 Mix all sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
- Step 2 Warm up cooking oil in a wok and fry garlic and onion for 7-8 mins or until they start to brown.
- Step 3 Add mushrooms, diced vegetables and salt. Stir-fry for 2-3 mins, until the mushrooms start to soften and give out moisture.
- Step 4 Pour in sauce mix and continue to stir-fry for about a minute until the sauce thickens.
- Step 5 Serve immediately with rice.