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Meat, Meet Marmite

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2009

Glutamate is part of a naturally occurring amino acid that contributes a savory quality to food. When making stews, soups, sauces, and braises, we often include glutamate-rich ingredients such as soy sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese to bump up flavor. However, another foodstuff has nearly twice as many glutamates as any of these: Marmite. A yeast extract from the byproducts of beer brewing, Marmite is made in Britain and marketed as a pungent spread for toast. We wondered, though, if it would be equally useful as a flavor enhancer.

We added 1/4 teaspoon per serving to beef stew and a quick meat sauce (at the beginning of cooking) and stirred it into a marinade for steak. The Marmite noticeably enhanced the meat sauce and steak, making them significantly more savory. However, the long-cooking beef stew had such concentrated flavors that the Marmite added little.

Look for Marmite (or its similar-tasting Australian cousin, Vegemite) in the international section of the supermarket.

MIGHTY MEATY

Add 1/4 teaspoon of Marmite per serving to quick soups, stews, sauces, or marinades for a shot of meaty "long-simmered" flavor.