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Demystifying the Brown Bottle: Maggi Seasoning Sauce Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Culture

I think that if every kitchen in the Netherlands was searched, eight out of ten of them would contain a bottle of Maggi seasoning. The first time I came across Maggi was at a Dutch birthday party. Vegetable soup had just been served and all around me the party guests were eagerly dumping loads of the brown seasoned liquid into their soup, curiosity got the better of me.

The following day, I decided to buy myself a small bottle of this strange item, of which nothing on the front gave me any idea of what it actually was. I got the treasured item home promptly opened it and poured a small drop onto my finger for a taste.

So, what is Maggi seasoning? Maggi is a dark, hydrolysed vegetable protein-based seasoning sauce, which is very similar to East Asian soy sauce without actually containing soy. It is used most often in soups and sauces.

The name is a bit confusing as Maggi is actually a Nestlé brand of instant soups, stocks, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasonings and instant noodles. The full name of the seasoning sauce is in fact “Maggi-Würze”, however, in many countries “Maggi” is still used as the seasoning sauce’s name. Consider it a nick-name.

Introduced in 1886, as a cheap substitute for meat extract, it has become popular in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. As to its taste, if you like soy sauce then you probably aren’t going to mind Maggi. I personally find you need to add quite a bit to really notice a distinctive “Maggi” taste but that might just be me.

So far, I have never seen a recipe that has an ingredient list that includes Maggi seasoning sauce on it and apart from adding it to vegetable soup, I can’t say I have really used the brown bottle much. So, I am curious. Do you have a bottle of Maggi in your kitchen cupboards and what do you use it for?

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