To bring out a rich flavor in stir-fry, I opt for oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is the best at building flavors in a dish. I simply love to pour this sauce on top of my noodles and pasta dishes for its signature shiny sheen and taste.
I also love to experiment with it in various dishes and prepare different condiments with it, which I have with deep-fried meats and veggies. Even though the oyster sauce is pretty great, I only recently found out what it is and how it’s made!
So, what is oyster sauce? Read on to find out!
What Is Oyster Sauce?
Oyster sauce is a rich, syrup-like sauce that is readily used in Chinese cuisine. It’s essentially made from caramelized oyster juices or oyster extract.
The consistency of the oyster sauce is somewhere between soy sauce and barbecue sauce. It has a dark brown, almost black hue. It’s a huge part of the Thai, Cantonese, and Vietnamese cuisines and is used in both vegetable and meat dishes.
What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?
Contrary to popular belief, oyster sauce tastes nothing like fish! It has a sweet flavor, with a subtle salty undertone. However, the flavor goes further than just being salty and sweet. The sweetness of the sauce isn’t one-note – it’s developed and dark, just like caramel.
The salty undertone is far less like table salt and is more akin to brine ocean water. Moreover, the oysters lend a rich savory flavor and umami to the sauce that makes up the signature oyster sauce flavor.
How Is Oyster Sauce Used?
Oyster sauce is often used straight from the bottle. Due to its velvety texture, oyster sauce lends a mouth-watering gloss to the food that it’s added to due to its velvety texture. This is what makes it perfect for stir-fry and noodles.
You can also use it as a glaze or a marinade for grilled meats or to coat veggies that you want to roast or steam. My personal favorite use of oyster sauce is as a broth booster; you just need to stir a dollop of the sauce in your soups or broths and enhance the flavor of the dish!
You can also add the sauce to other sauces such as soy sauce to make a delectable condiment.
How to Store Oyster Sauce
You can store an unopened bottle of oyster sauce in a cool and dark space in your pantry for a year. Make sure to store it away from heated appliances.
Once you open the bottle, make sure to refrigerate the sauce bottle. Once in the fridge, oyster sauce will easily last for about 6 months. As for canned oyster sauce, once opened, transfer the sauce into a lidded jar and refrigerate it.
Is Oyster Sauce Gluten Free?
Oyster sauce is not a gluten-free sauce as it typically contains wheat flour that is used to thicken the sauce. Unless the sauce is specifically labeled as gluten-free, there’s a high likelihood that there’s wheat flour in oyster sauce.
Is Oyster Sauce the Same as Fish Sauce?
Oyster sauce is made from oyster juices and other ingredients that give more flavor to it, while fish sauce has only two ingredients – fermented fish and salt. This is why oyster sauce and fish sauce are completely different in flavor, aroma, color, and consistency.
Quite like soy sauce, fish sauce is exceptionally salty. Furthermore, it has a reddish-brown hue and is mostly used as a condiment. It has an exceptionally strong fish-like flavor and it is clear and watery. On the other hand, oyster sauce is inarguably darker, thicker, and sweeter than fish sauce and it only has a subtle salty taste.
Is Oyster Sauce Vegan?
No, oyster sauce is not vegan. However, there’s a vegan version of oyster sauce that’s made with mushrooms instead of oysters. It’s quite similar in texture and color to regular oyster sauce, but the vegan version is a bit thinner.
You can use the vegan variety in any dish that calls for the use of oyster sauce. You can either buy vegan oyster sauce or make your own at home.
What Is Oyster Sauce Made of?
As the name suggests, oyster sauce is made from oysters. Oysters are cooked in water for a prolonged period, which results in caramelized oyster juices. Sugar, salt, and at times, soy sauce, are then added to this juice, which is then thickened with wheat flour or cornstarch.
The Bottom Line
I hope you now know “what is oyster sauce?” Do experiment with this rich sweet and salty sauce in various dishes and enjoy its unique flavor. Make sure to store the sauce properly to extend its shelf life. If you are looking for a vegan sauce, then you can buy the vegan oyster sauce that’s made with mushrooms. You can readily use it in place of regular oyster sauce.