If you’re a fan of Chinese cuisine, then you must have a deep love for oyster sauce!
Oyster sauce is a Chinese and Thai sauce made with oyster extracts and other seasonings. It is used to enrich the flavor profile of many Asian dishes such as noodles, stir-fries, meat dishes, soups, marinades, veggie dishes, and more.
Just a dollop of oyster sauce can add a richness and blend of unique flavors to your dishes.
If you’re craving to cook up a delicious dish that calls for oyster sauce and you don’t have it at home, then use an oyster sauce substitute for that subtle umami flavor.
Read on to find out some substitutes that you can use instead of oyster sauce.
What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?
Oyster sauce has a pretty unique taste. It is primarily sweet and salty but has a much more complex flavor.
The sweetness of the oyster sauce is quite rich and developed just like caramel, while the saltiness is quite similar to briny ocean water rather than the saltiness of table salt.
Moreover, oyster sauce adds layers of a rich, savory, and umami flavor to the dish that it’s added to.
Is Oyster Sauce Vegan?
Since oyster sauce is essentially made of oysters, it is not vegan. With that said, there’s a vegan variety that you can use instead of normal oyster sauce.
It’s made with shiitake mushrooms instead of oysters and has a texture and color that’s quite similar to oyster sauce, despite being on the thinner side.
Oyster Sauce Substitutes
If you’re looking for an oyster sauce substitute for your Asian dish, then the following sauces are perfect options for you to use:
Even though naturally fermented soy sauce is saltier than and not as syrupy as oyster sauce, it’s one of the best oyster sauce substitutes out there.
This is because it can add that delectable umami flavor and savory notes to your dish that oyster sauce will bring out in it.
With that said, it does lack the sweetness of oyster sauce. However, you can fix that by adding a tiny pinch of brown sugar to the sauce.
Even though you can use the same amount of soy sauce in a dish that calls for oyster sauce, I prefer to start with half the amount and add the sauce later if required.
For instance, if a dish calls for 4Ts of oyster sauce, then I usually start with 2Ts of soy sauce and go from there.
Sweet Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis)
This is an Indonesian variety of the classic soy sauce and acts as a suitable substitute for oyster sauce.
It provides that classic umami flavor, lots of saltiness, and sweetness that is an essential part of oyster sauce.
However, it can be a bit sweeter than oyster sauce, so make sure to use less of it at first rather than adding the amount equal to the one required for oyster sauce.
This is another sweet and salty sauce used in Asian cuisines that acts as an apt oyster sauce substitute. You can use it in a quantity similar to oyster sauce.
However, instead of the briny flavor of oyster sauce, hoisin sauce has a salty undertone.
Fish sauce has the same brownish hue and sweet and salty taste as oyster sauce. However, it also has a distinctive fish-like flavor, which makes it stand out in a dish when used generously.
It is often used together with oyster sauce in stir-fries.
Even though you can use the exact amount of fish sauce in a dish that calls for oyster sauce, it’s better to use slightly less of it so that the fish sauce flavor doesn’t overpower the flavor of your dish.
If you’re looking for a vegan oyster sauce replacement, then the shiitake mushroom sauce is the best fit. It offers the same rich, savory, and umami goodness as oyster sauce and successfully resembles its distinctive flavor.
You can also create our own mushroom sauce by cooking shiitake mushrooms with ginger, garlic cloves, sesame oil, peanut oil, and soy sauce and make a paste of this mixture.
You can sue mushroom sauce in the same quantity as oyster sauce in a dish.
Soy and Hoisin Sauce
Combine soy and hoisin sauce in equal measures to create a close stand-in for oyster sauce. This blend of sauce will offer the same umami richness to your dishes as oyster sauce.
You can use it in the same amount in a dish that calls for oyster sauce.
The Bottom Line
If you have run out of oyster sauce and can’t run to the store to get a new bottle, then use oyster sauce substitutes that I’ve mentioned above.
These sauces will provide a rich, umami, savory, sweet, and salty flavor that is synonymous with oyster sauce.
So, go ahead and make that stir-fry right now!