Many people ask themselves: What does oyster sauce taste like? Generally, the answer is a mix of sweet and salty. In addition to the essential flavors of sweetness and salt, it also boasts a deep, complex taste. Its flavors are not just sweet and salty but somewhat more akin to those found in ocean water. It imparts layers of savory and umami flavor to food.
Oyster sauce is a condiment that adds a savory flavor to dishes. It is a staple in Chinese family cooking and is often used in stir-fries and other popular Chinese-American dishes. It is also a popular topping for some dishes. Cantonese chefs have used the oyster sauce for decades, but its use is not limited to Cantonese cooking. It is an indispensable ingredient for any cuisine and adds an extra layer of flavor.
What is Oyster Sauce?
Oyster sauce has a mild, savory flavor. It is a condiment made from oysters and is often called the “milk of the sea.” It is commonly used in cooking many different kinds of Chinese food and is also popular in Thailand. Its savory and sweet taste makes it a versatile condiment, and it also adds a savory flavor to dishes. It can be an excellent addition to stir-fries, Chinese chicken, or fish.
Oyster sauce is a vibrant syrup-like condiment similar to soy sauce but is less salty. Its rich flavor is sweet and earthy with hints of caramel. It is often used in stir-fries and stir-fry recipes, but it is not a must-have. Its taste is often derived from the oyster’s extractives. Unlike soy sauce, it is sweet, earthy, and salty. Oyster sauce is a critical ingredient in Asian cuisine.
Oyster sauce is also a staple of Chinese cooking, but it is not a must-have in most homes. However, if you are a fan of Chinese cuisine, you should look for a restaurant that offers this flavor.
What does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?
The flavor of oyster sauce varies, and it has a savory, salty undertone and is thick.
The flavor of oyster sauce is a cross between soy sauce and barbecue sauce. It’s salty and sweet, with hints of caramel. The salt comes from the brininess of the oysters, while the sweet is complex. It has less salt and more umami than soy sauce.
Even though the oyster sauce is made from oysters, the flavor is unremarkable. This sauce would add a salty, savory, and sweet flavor to your meals and an earthy sensation to the tongue. The presence of an earthy flavor is a good indicator of oyster sauce quality.
What are the Ingredients in Oyster Sauce?
Oyster sauce is made with oysters, salt, sugar, MSG, modified corn starch, wheat flour, and caramel color. Instead of oysters, soybeans, brown sugar, and mushroom flavor are commonly used in vegetarian versions.
The main ingredient in oyster sauce is oysters. Some oyster sauces also contain other ingredients, including corn starch, and they are often thickened by a thickener. Oyster sauce is a popular addition to many Chinese recipes, but if you are not a fan of the flavor of raw or cooked seafood, it may be best to avoid it. If you are trying to replace oysters in a recipe, you can try fish-based soy sauce or soy-based substitutes.
Is there any Oyster in it?
Folks, it’s not just a name! Oyster sauce contains oysters. In place of the traditional and apparently cost-prohibitive process of caramelizing oyster broth, most mass-produced brands use the oyster extract in combination with most sugar and cornstarch. There should be no salt or added flavors in “true” oyster sauce! Even with the concentration of oysters in question, some actual oysters will undoubtedly remain to give the sauce its signature funk.
The general rule for oyster sauce (and most processed foods) is that the lower the quality, the less flavorful the sauce will be, necessitating a greater reliance on flavor enhancers like MSG and soy sauce.
What are the Best Brands of Oyster Sauce?
Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce is the preferred brand of Cook’s Illustrated.
You’ll find a wide range of answers on the internet, but the Lee Kum Kee brand and its flagship Premium Oyster Sauce appear to be the most popular.
According to Amazon reviewers, the quality is better, and it uses natural oysters, but it still contains MSG. It’s no surprise that Lee Kum Kee has a strong sense of brand loyalty, given that it’s the world’s oldest oyster sauce brand. This brand was in our pantry when I was growing up.
Singaporean with previous residences in Asia, Europe, and the United States, Jirah Tan suggests using Thai oyster sauce in Thai dishes and Chinese sauce in Chinese dishes. Thai oyster sauces, she claims, are saltier and have a more robust “tang of the sea.” She suggests Maekura, a Thai brand.
We have yet to come across an artisanal brand that uses the time-consuming original method of caramelizing oyster broth. Maybe there isn’t much demand because most people haven’t had the real thing. This home recipe makes an attempt, though its ingredients conflict with those above “true oyster sauce” formulation, prohibiting additives.
Hoisin Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce and hoisin sauce are frequently compared because of their apparent similarities. Brown, thick, and sweet, they are both. In my personal experience, they haven’t crossed paths because both have particular uses in their respective cuisines. They are, however, close enough to serve as substitutes for one another (see above).
Oyster vs. Soy Sauce
Oyster sauce has a slightly syrupy texture, but it doesn’t have soy sauce’s sweet, savory flavor. Oyster sauce is full of umami, and it tastes less salty than soy sauce. It is usually a part of a stir-fry recipe but is also a marinade, Asian barbecue sauce, or glazing agent. It is an excellent accompaniment to a variety of dishes.
Oyster sauce has a rich, syrup-like taste. Unlike the fishy taste of the fish sauce, it is also mild and can be used sparingly. Oyster sauce does have a distinctly savory flavor, but the aroma is not overwhelming. The taste of the oyster sauce is reminiscent of a barbecue sauce, and the flavor is less potent than the flavor of soy sauce. The sweetness of oyster sauce can be masked with lime juice or a splash of lime juice.
What is the Difference Between Oyster Sauce and Fish Sauce?
- Taste: Fish sauce has a much stronger fishy and salty flavor than oyster sauce, which is sweeter and brinier.
- Ingredients: Fish sauce is typically made from fermented anchovies as a base. As the name suggests, the Oyster sauce is made from reduced and caramelized oysters.
- Fish sauce is a clear condiment with a deep red-brown tint, whereas oyster sauce is a dark, opaque brown sauce that looks more like syrup.
- Sugar and cornstarch give the oyster sauce a thicker consistency than fish sauce, which is thinner and more liquid.
- Fish sauce has a distinct, pungent aroma that is very potent. The aroma of oyster sauce is a little more subtle and less fishy.
Is it Possible to use Chinese Oyster Sauce in Thai cuisine?
Yes. While the flavors of Thai and Chinese oyster sauces are clearly different in a taste test, once in a dish, they are close enough that the dish will not taste inauthentic. If it helps, your local Thai restaurant is almost certainly using Panda.
I usually buy LKK Boat Lady because it is the best of the ones that are easily accessible to me. However, whenever I go to the Thai store, I always pick up a bottle of Maekrua because it’s what I grew up with, and the bottle has a solid nostalgic effect on me.
However, after this taste test, I was surprised by how better Boat Lady is than Maekrua.
So…this has an impact. I’ll probably buy Maekrua much less now, as sad as it is.
However, if you have a memory of a dish you had in Thailand and want it to taste exactly like you remember, Maekrua will almost certainly deliver.
How do you decide which one is the best based on the label?
A good indicator of quality is price. Given that you’re shopping at the same store, the more expensive the brand, the more oyster extract is likely in the sauce, and the higher the quality. Remember that, unlike fish sauce, bottle sizes vary greatly, so you may need to do some calculations.
The amount of oyster extract in the bottle can also be estimated by looking at the protein content on the nutrition label. However, remember that serving sizes on nutritional information can differ between brands, so be prepared to do some math.
Is Oyster Sauce Perishable? How do you get to Know?
Like many other condiments and food products, the Oyster sauce can go wrong. Oyster sauce needs to be stored correctly, but it will last for two years! It may even last longer, but the packaging’s expiration date will always be stated.
Oyster sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two years, but it can also be kept at room temperature for up to six months.
Always check the label to see how long your oyster sauce will last. However, this isn’t always accurate because it depends on where and how you store it. It’s best to smell and look at your oyster sauce to see if it’s gone wrong. It’s gone bad if your oyster sauce has a strange odor or an unusual appearance or fluff.
Your oyster sauce has likely gone wrong if it smells solid, pungent, or incredibly fishy. If your oyster sauce has changed appearance and is moldy, watery, or completely solid, it has probably gone bad.
How do you use Oyster Sauce in your cooking?
“The queen of stir fry sauces,” I call oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is excellent in meat and vegetable stir-fries, fried rice, and fried noodles, and while it can be used alone in stir-fries, I prefer to use it in combination with soy sauce and fish sauce for a more complex flavor.
You can use it in soups and stews, but we usually use it in something a little more decadent, like Thai beef stew, five-spice eggs, pork belly soup, or the famous boat noodles, due to their richness.
It’s also great in marinades for meat. It’s a significant player in the only steak marinade you’ll ever need, with a bit of salt, a little sweetness, and umami.
Finally, you can drizzle it over steamed vegetables (usually Chinese broccoli) straight up or slightly diluted, but I recommend the premium LKK oyster sauce. The other brands are too salty for me. In Thailand, where Maekrua is the most famous oyster sauce, we don’t usually eat it straight.
Oyster sauce is salty, so be careful not to add too much of it to your dish. It is best to keep it in the refrigerator to avoid it going bad. Keeping the sauce in the refrigerator is essential, so it doesn’t spoil. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you should use other sauces instead. You can substitute mushrooms for oyster sauce if you are allergic to shellfish. The New York Times cooking magazine recommends keeping it in the refrigerator.
If you want a proper oyster sauce, it should be like clam juice, and using a bit of lime juice will make it taste better, while too little may leave it too salty. In addition to being fishy, the oyster sauce should be sweet and savory; it should have a hint of fish and be salty. If you want a truly authentic oyster sauce, it should not contain additional ingredients.