Octopus’s Garden Taste Test
Tiny bottle – big taste!
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference…
Our latest supplier taste test sample came through the post in a small padded envelope. Inside was a glass bottle from Jane Antrobus at Octopus’s Garden. With a rubber dosing top and tube, it looked a bit as if you might squeeze a few drops into your eyes … but what it really contained was a subtle liquid kick of umami flavour made from seaweed and organic vegetables.
The job of the Comesto taste test panel is to sample new products and assess them across a range of values for suitability for the commercial kitchen or bar. This particular test was going to be challenging, but intriguing. Octopus’s Garden Seaweed Drops is an ingredient; a flavour to add to food or drink. In simple terms, it has to work – to add a taste that people can identify and enjoy within a dish.
We gave the Seaweed Drops to two chefs to try out, before the bottle came back to me (I like to think of myself as a domestic chef) to use at home and give a third opinion.
Our chefs tried the ingredient with a range of fish dishes, in a soup and, as suggested on the website and packaging, with avocado. There was a positive response. Further feedback identified the taste as certainly umami, but with an obvious flavour of the sea, and like a subtle, lighter version of fish sauce. Unlike fish sauce, however, it is a premium product. Possibly the best advice we received was:
“Buy it, but use it carefully. Let your customers know what the taste is and don’t let that taste get lost by being masked by spices or other strong flavours – it’s best used in light, simple dishes as a finishing note.”
I also used it in a stir fry, again with success. Anything with a Japanese base will be a good partner for these seaweed drops. Interestingly, it also worked well with a heavy meat recipe and reminded me of a dish created by Paul Foster at his restaurant ‘Salt’ in Stratford-upon-Avon. He uses cod’s roe with a roast lamb main course – just a small amount as a flavour enhancer – and the seaweed drops did a similar job. Again it’s that little umami hit.
And so to the verdict/advice (in no particular order):
- A useful storecupboard item
- Genuinely versatile, with a distinctive taste
- A few drops in a bowl of light coloured fish or veg soup looks and tastes great
- A useful Vegan flavour enhancer
- There was split opinion on bottle size and design. The rubber dropper is useful for accurate dosing, but one tester would have preferred a larger bottle
If you would like to try the Seaweed Drops, or find out more, just click here to contact Octopus’s Garden through their Comesto profile.