Some Chinese foods like chow mein, broccoli and beef, Sichuan noodles, Kung Pao shrimp, and Stir fry all have one thing in common and it is that they all are flavored with oyster sauce. You might not have heard about oyster sauce before and maybe you have a recipe of Kung Pao chicken that you need oyster sauce for but you do not have and you want an alternative.
Soy sauce is the best replacement for your oyster sauce because they are similar in color, flavor, and saltiness. There are other options that you can also use such as fish sauce and you can also make your oyster sauce yourself.
What we want to see in this article is to tell you everything you should know concerning oyster sauce and some alternatives you can use instead of oyster sauce. You should continue reading to find out the best replacement for your oyster sauce.
The Complete Guide to Substitutes for Oyster Sauce
You may not be familiar with the term ‘oyster sauce’ but it is a type of sauce commonly used when cooking Asian dishes. You are likely not going to find this sauce at a seafood restaurant even though it is possible. Oyster sauce could be made in different ways but it is a brown type that has resemblance with soy sauce. Oyster sauce is made by cooking oysters and turning it to brown that we use for cooking and other condiment purposes. Oyster sauce contains extracts from salt, sugar, corn starch, water, and cooked oysters. It is most times naturally dark and it can also be darkened by using caramel. This means that it is both salty and sweet and you will only require a small amount in your dish because of the saltiness.
Traditionally, the oyster sauce was solely made by the simmering of oysters inside the water and adding some other ingredients. In recent times, it is still made the same way, but it is made commonly by using oyster essence or oyster extract.
Using Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is not a popular sauce except you are a type that is conversant with various Asian dishes. There are many people who do not know they have one time or another taken the sauce by eating some dishes at the Chinese restaurants. Oyster sauces can also be used as toppings or for dipping. Check below for some popular dishes traditionally made using oyster sauce as a part:
- Thai grilled chicken wings
- Beef and broccoli
- Spicy Sichuan noodles
- Kung Pao chicken or shrimp
- Bok Choy
- Chow mein and Lo mein
- Asian stir fry
- Other sauces
We can also use it for common bland foods such as tofu.
The flavor of oyster sauce is unique and bold and it easily improves naturally bland foods. It is sometimes added in a small amount to steamed vegetables (Asian) for some additional flavor. Oyster is most commonly used to create some other different types of sauce and this makes it verily used in several Asian cuisines. The unique and salty flavor is quite strong, but it does not have a fishy taste.
The Best Substitutes for Oyster Sauce
A great challenge about oyster sauce is that it is difficult to find. In case you are trying to make a recipe where you require sauces, you might probably have found stir-fry, soy sauce, hoisin, and several others and it seems oyster sauce cannot be found anywhere. The best place you can find oyster sauce could be by either ordering for it online or purchasing at an Asian supermarket.
In case you have searched all around and you cannot seem to find oyster sauce, there are alternatives you can use and we have many of them that we want to show you. There are so many homemade Asian dishes that people do not use oyster sauce for any longer because they are so difficult to find, it has been replaced by another type of sauce that will still give the same flavor.
Homemade Oyster Sauce
You can make your oyster sauce at home if you have oysters, salt, and soy sauce which will give it an added flavor. Though it will not be like oyster sauce exactly, it will work fine and it is the easiest way you can make your oyster sauce.
- Drain your oysters from the shucked oysters and keep the liquid at one side.
- Mince your drained oysters.
- Pour a little quantity of water and add back your oyster liquid to your minced oysters in a pot.
- Allow the mixture to boil.
- Allow it to simmer for up to 10 minutes under the heat.
- Remove it from the heat before you add salt and allow it to cool.
- Remove the oyster by sieving the mixture.
- For every half cup of the mixture, add two tablespoons of prepared light soy sauce.
- You can then proceed to add a small amount of dark soy sauce, about half a tablespoon for a cup of the mixture.
- Proceed to boil the mixture again and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
You will be left with an oyster sauce that is homemade and it could be used as a replacement for it.
Make Your Own Vegan-Friendly Substitute
You can proceed to make your substitute for oyster sauce if you are a vegetarian or vegan type. All you need is unprocessed sugar, brown bean sauce, and mushroom broth or mushrooms. Add them to water and allow them to boil for some time. Add a little cornstarch after boiling for a while, this will help thicken your sauce. This is good for those that have dietary restrictions who fish sauce or soy sauce will not work for. The end product will give similar flavor to soy sauce, though without fish or oyster.
Fish sauce has similarities with oyster sauce because it is made from an aquatic creature; krill or fish. It is another sauce that can replace oyster sauce. The fish they are made from are salted before they are allowed to ferment for some time. You will have an end result that is similar to oyster sauce. Its color is brown just like oyster sauce and its flavor is also salty and sweet. It however has a little difference in that it has a fishy flavor. A substitute for the oyster sauce is using the same measurement of fish sauce. You could decide to use less in case you are being careful of its fish flavor. It is easy to get at a grocery store which makes it a very good alternative to oyster sauce. A fish sauce itself is most popular in Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Thai dishes. Check below for our best two options:
- Red Boat: This is a bit costly but it is a pure sauce made with just two ingredients, the fish together with the salt. MSG or preservatives are not added, neither is water added to it.
- Thai Kitchen: It is the most common brand that you are likely to see around. It has great flavor and it is very reliable. The ingredients are fresh and of high quality. Dairy, gluten, or MSG are not added to this brand.
Depending on your type of cuisine, fish sauce could be the best alternative to oyster sauce.
The best substitute for oyster sauce is perhaps soy sauce where you can use the same amount as a replacement in whatever recipe you are trying to make. Soy sauce is the substitute that is most commonly used and it will also give the closest to the flavor. It has a similar color and it is fairly salty. The main difference might be that we do not make soy sauce with oysters. Check below for some of the favorites we know:
- Kishibori Shoyu Artisan Soy Sauce: it is a premium blend, imported from Japan directly. The flavor is bold and full and it will be delicious and mild in several dishes.
- La Choy Soy Sauce: It is a common brand and it has an all-purpose use with good flavor. Its flavor is a little deeper when compared to Kikkoman that will be discussed next.
- Kikkoman Soy Sauce: It is considered the most popular brand of soy sauce. All the soy sauce are naturally brewed that will give an incredible quality and delicious flavor at all time. It is very reliable and reasonably priced.
There are several others but the mentioned above are of great quality when you need a replacement for your oyster sauce. Soy sauce is very popular in Asian dishes and it is easier to get at a grocery store. Remember to use it in the same measurement when using to replace oyster sauce.
One thing you should always remember is that your oyster sauce cannot be skipped, if you don’t have it, you must find a suitable substitute. Any of the above options will work perfectly. Stir-fry or hoisin can also be used or perhaps combined.
Related Questions Asked
We hope the guide has been useful with all the information you need for you to find the best replacement for your oyster sauce. Please check below for some questions and answers that could help enhance your knowledge.
Does Oyster Sauce Have a Fishy Flavor?
It doesn’t have a fishy flavor, it is more earthy and it has a salty and sweet taste.
Can Oyster Sauce Be Used as a Dipping Sauce?
Because oyster sauce is salty, you can only use a little amount for dipping sauce, it works good for vegetables and you can also drizzle it over them.