I needed to take a break from what is now to be a weekly Accutane update and when my third shipment of Marmite came in, I realized I never let you all know how it came out!
As a vegetarian with a serious distaste for unnecessary (possibly/definitely unhealthy) food additives, Marmite was my Queen of the Night. I went looking for a product that had ingredients I could identify, was all-natural, had little sodium and had no added MSG. The beef/chicken/vegetable bases I used contained massive amounts of that junk.
It must be noted, however, that MSG naturally occurs in yeast extract which is what Marmite is. Before you Molotov cocktail my life, consider the fact that MSG naturally occurs in tomatoes, walnuts, broccoli, potatoes, etc. While it can’t be avoided in foods that have it in there naturally, it can be avoided when they add it in buttloads extra to certain foods.
The obvious and easiest thing to do with Marmite is to dissolve it in warm water as a beef base for soup. It’s so meaty and full of umami, I’m brought right back to my carnivorous past. I find that in getting the stuff off the spoon, I end up using my fingers because the stuff’s pretty thick. Then off course I’m left with some on my fingers which I lick off every time. Don’t. Don’t unless you’re 90s EXTREEEEME or are European and had it on sandwiches as a kid and are totally cool with the taste in its concentrated form. It’s like a punch in your tastebuds’ nether-regions and yet somehow every time I use it, I seem to forget and re-learn the secret of the ooze.
Another way I use it is to flavor my seitan. It would be easier, I’m sure, and it would likely keep more of the flavor if I used vital wheat gluten to make seitan and subbed the water for water+dissolved Marmite. Since I make it from scratch out of regular flour (the soaking, the kneading, the hating of Amish self), there’s less chance of flavor absorption. This is actually something I’ve been trying to figure out for some time now, how to inject the most amount of flavor prior to cooking the seitan when it’s made from scratch. In this case, I make sure to make a broth of Marmite and boil the seitan in there so that it can hold on to as much as possible.
Once I’m ready to cook the seitan, I pan fry it in some avocado oil (very high smoke point, so you don’t have to worry about your oils turning on you) to the consistency/char/doneness that I want and then in goes some water+Marmite mixture until it cooks down and coats the seitan. When I tell you it looks like meat, I’m not talking delusional vegetarian “I swear you can’t tell”. It looks like meat, it smells like meat and it tastes like meat. The only difference is the texture – it’s not as close as I wish it could be, but so far, this has been the closest I’ve come to without buying overly processed vegetarian lies.
I love this stuff so much I upgraded from a 125g container (first time I bought it), to the 250g and now I have two 500g containers in my life. I’m so freaking excited! I took a picture for a friend to show scale, so the shot isn’t as blog-sexy as it could have been. Also, the can of beans used to show scale are of the few cans I have in my place nowadays. Even though those are organic, canned foods typically contain preservatives and added salt and so all of my beans are dried and all vegetables that are not bought fresh are frozen.
500gs of goodness.
I’m still in the middle of trying out options for a vegetarian chicken base as Marmite only covers beef. So far I’ve ruled out miso paste because even in its low sodium, organic form it makes everything taste of miso. It’s too specific and I ruined a perfectly good cabbage soup that way. I’ve tried making my own vegetable broth by boiling down scraps of vegetables and it came out very weak and no matter how I spiced it, I couldn’t get it close to chicken. I’m currently trying out this Vegetarian Chicken Base from Vogue. I’l keep you posted on that one.
If you’ve got ideas for vegetarian Marmite dishes, have a possible (or actual) solution for flavoring seitan made from scratch, or just want to tell me about vegetarian food, please let me know!