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If you like to cook from scratch, eventually you stop buying packaged condiments. The homemade versions of ketchup, mayonnaise, yogurt, jelly, pickles, and caramel sauce taste so much better than anything you can buy. Still, there are some purchased bottles left in my cupboard. Then, my husband started making his own charcoal from cherry wood and I thought, how can I possibly use Lea & Perrins Worcestershire on a hamburger cooked on homemade charcoal?

After much experimenting, here are my latest homemade condiments: worcestershire sauce and fish sauce. These anchovy-based sauces are easy to make, easy to keep for a long time, and much more flavorful that anything in a commercial bottle.

Fish Sauce

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin of anchovies
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup brown or palm sugar
  • 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 5 Thai chile peppers, split


Bring the water to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove and strain and discard the solids.

I use fish sauce in Thai curries, Vietnamese dipping sauces, and instead of soy sauce in Chinese stir-fries.

Worcestershire Sauce

2 cups white wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup molasses
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup tamarind concentrate
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon curry powder
5 cardamom pods, smashed
4 chiles de árbol, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1  one-inch stick of cinnamon
1 anchovy, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1  half-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and crushed
1⁄2 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a 3-quart saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook sugar covered with water, in a skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes dark amber and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add caramelized sugar to vinegar mixture and whisk to combine; cook sauce for 5 minutes. Strain.