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Wow-Wow sauce

Sauces and Spicery

An English Piquant Sauce sauce, of the 19th century, for service with beef.

Modern Wow-wow sauce from Kitchener's Receipt
Image: Unknown

'Wow-Wow Sauce' appears several times as the title of a routine by the comedian and actor Charles Mathews, at least since a playbill for the Theatre Royal, Chester, for Feb 27th 1830 (Chester Chronicle - Friday 26 February 1830). A receipt for an actual sauce of the name appears in the 1825 edition of 'The Cook's Oracle' by William Kitchiner. It is not entirely clear which came first.

The name has also been used in Sir Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' novels for "A very potent and highly unstable condiment ... with a tendency to turn into an explosive when mixed with charcoal."

Original Receipt from 'The Cook's Oracle' by William Kitchiner (Kitchiner 1830)

Wow wow Sauce for stewed or bouilli Beef.-(No. 328.)
Chop some parsley-leaves very fine; quarter two or three pickled cucumbers, or walnuts, and divide them into small squares, and set them by ready: put into a saucepan a bit of butter as big as an egg; when it is melted, stir to it a table-spoonful of fine flour, and about half a pint of the broth in which the beef was boiled; add a table-spoonful of vinegar, the like quantity of mushroom catchup, or port wine, or both, and a tea-spoonful of made mustard; let it simmer together till it is as thick as you wish it; put in the parsley and pickles to get warm, and pour it over the beef; or rather send it up in a sauce-tureen.
Obs. If you think the above not sufficiently piquante, add to it some capers, or a minced eschalot, or one or two tea-spoonfuls of eschalot wine, or essence of anchovy, or basil, elder, or tarragon, or horseradish, or burnet vinegar; or strew over the meat carrots and turnips cut into dice, minced capers, walnuts, red cabbage, pickled cucumbers, or French beans, &c.

There is a bizarre reference in William Black's 'The Land that Thyme Forgot' to a variant called Bow Wow Sauce as being produced in the Cotswold village of Painswick for the occasion of a reconciliatory feast with the neighbouring village of Stroud after Stroud's accusation that a Painswick shepherd had sacrificed a pie made of puppies to the shepherd god.


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