Lets get one thing straight from the get-go. There are a lot of Vegemite haters out there. This post is not for you. This is for the people who can't start their day without a smear of black gold on their toast, who grew up with Vegemite sandwiches in their school lunch box. This is a post for the Happy Little Vegemites.
Last Friday marked the 90th birthday for the quintessential Aussie spread, Vegemite. I saw an ad promoting 'creative ways to serve Vegemite' (the ad in particular suggested Vegemite on toast with smashed avocado) and it got me thinking... is there a way to incorporate Vegemite into a chicken parma? Perhaps making the iconic Australian dish even more Aussie.
I floated the idea on facebook and it was met with mixed responses, some of pure joy and others of utter disgust. After back-and-forthing a little I came to the conclusion that a Vege-parma might be taking things a bit too far, however another idea floated into my brain that I had to give a go.
Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for a good chip dip. Be it tomato sauce or any sort of aioli, a serve of chips will always get extra points if there is some sort of liquid sitting beside them for dipping. A few years back Smiths released Vegemite flavoured potato chips -
They were only 'for a limited time', but when they were available they were my chip of choice -Which, to me, was proof positive that the union of potato and Vegemite was meant to be, and what is better than cold potato chips? Hot chips!
Now there are two ways to make aioli. The easy way and the hard way. As I pretty much proved on the last cooking with Parma Daze I'm an 'easy way' kinda guy, so for this experiment we kept things simple...
Aioli is a fancy word for garlic mayonnaise, and I know this entire post is a really convoluted way of saying "I mixed Vegemite with Mayo", but bear with me. For the chips I went a little fancy and tried these new "Deli parmesan, garlic & basil" seasoned oven chips - I figured if the aioli was a disaster I could at least have some decent tasting chips for dinner.
So ... lets get this started.
First up, a bowl of mayo -
As I wasn't following any recipe in particular there isn't many measurements I can give you to try this at home - but as there are only two ingredients it shouldn't be too hard to work out. Everyone has their own opinions of how much Vegemite to use anyway, so my recipe is basically "mix to personal taste".
I started with a liberal squirt of mayo, probably between a quarter and a half of the bottle. On top of that I spooned about two teaspoons of vegemite, grabbed a whisk and started stirring.
Now you've gotta be prepared to put some elbow grease into it - the consistency of Vegemite doesn't really lend itself to being mixed so you've got to force it, I found using a fork to mush out the lumps worked quite well.
After several minutes of mixing I had something that looked like this -
A quick taste-test told me that it was a little too mayonaisse-ey and (although the flavour was starting to come through) not quite Vegemite-ey enough, I doubled up and put another two teaspoons of Vegemite in the mix and kept on stirring. Another taste test in a few minutes, it was closer but still not quite there, so I put in a fifth teaspoon and mixed it up.
After smoothing out the lumps and furiously mixing for another few minutes it looked about done, I put it into a serving bowl and chucked it in the fridge while the chips finished cooking...
Damn that looks pretty, doesn't it?
While waiting for the chips I stuck my pinky in and had a taste ... It was good. It was the first time in this whole process I let myself think that this one might actually be a success. The oven chips were done and I served up the whole shebang...
Now those oven chips, to me, look undercooked, so no need in pointing that out, but as some of the smaller ones were starting to burn without turning golden brown, I think that is just the colour that they are supposed to be.
I picked up a chip. My hands were shaking. I dipped...
And it was good.
It really tasted exactly how you would imagine it, liking coating a hot chip in runny Vegemite. My one complaint would be that I took the easy way out and didn't make the aioli from scratch - the strong vinegar taste from the mayo definitely came through and interfered with the Vegemite taste a little - next time I would definitely make it from scratch, omitting the vinegar.
EDIT: I've been told from a few people since posting this that I should've used whole-egg mayonnaise, that would have solved the vinegar taste issue - keep it in mind when making your own!
After the failure of the pork rind parma I was terrified that I'd have another failed invention on my hands, and it pleases me to no end that this one was good (at least in my opinion, you guys might hate it).
So there you have it! Take some mayo, mix Vegemite to personal taste and you've got yourself a tasty little chip-dip.
So if you want to Aussie-fy your next bowl of chips, perhaps make a surprising treat for your next Australia Day party then give Vegemite Aioli a try (or as a mate of mine dubbed it "Vaioli"). I recommend trying it the easy way first, just to see if its your cup of tea, then if you're a fan give making it from scratch a go, it'll definitely put a rose in your cheeks.