Simmer sauces taste test

If you’re craving an Asian-style meal, don’t expect authenticity from a jar of simmer sauce, finds the CHOICE tasting panel.
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  • Updated:1 Aug 2009


Simmer sauces

In brief

  • CHOICE tasting panel tried 26 simmer sauces – none of them impressed and few came even close to conjuring up authentic Asian flavours.
  • Some sauces are too high in sugar, saturated fat or salt to be eaten every day. 

When you’re pressed for time, what could be simpler than a ready-made sauce? Fry some chicken, stir in a jar of butter chicken or sweet-and-sour sauce, add some vegetables and you have a tasty meal ready to serve within about 20 minutes.

It’s not surprising these sauces are popular; in fact, Australians are now spending about $80 million a year on them. But with so many types and flavours on supermarket shelves, there’s a bewildering choice. Which taste best? Which are most like a sauce made from scratch using an authentic recipe?

CHOICE focused on four popular Asian flavours that include most of the major brands (26 sauces in total):

  • butter chicken
  • green curry
  • satay
  • sweet and sour

How we tested

Our tester cooks the sauces with chicken following the manufacturer’s instructions and serves them with boiled rice. They are tasted by 55 ordinary consumers (29 men and 26 women), all CHOICE staff. The sauces are presented in a random order in plain containers identified only by numbers and letters; the tasters know the type of sauce but not the brand.

Each sauce is tasted by nine to 12 people. We ask them to score the taste of the sauces for overall impression as well as how closely they think the samples taste like authentic food from that country’s cuisine.



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