What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?


Quick Answer: What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?

The taste of the oyster sauce is a mix of sweet, salty, and earthy. Some people feel that oyster sauce is a combination of barbecue and soy sauce. Some say that oyster sauce’s flavor is between fish sauce and soy sauce. Although, it has less salt content in comparison to soy sauce. Oyster sauce is full of umami which is a savory, tangy flavor.

Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Asian cooking, but what does it actually taste like?

Is it fishy? Salty? Sweet? Umami?

Let’s find out!

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Oyster sauce is an oyster-based sauce and is full of flavor. It is used in Chinese cuisine. Oyster sauce is a mixture of boiled-down oyster juices, salt, and sugar.

Some oyster sauce versions have additional cornstarch to thicken their consistency.

The percentage of oysters in the sauce varies greatly from brand to brand.

Oyster sauce is usually used to enhance the flavors in vegetables or meat dishes. It is also used in salad dressings, stews, noodles, and soups.

What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?

Oyster sauce flavor is like a mix of soy sauce and barbecue sauce. Oyster sauce is a sweet and salty sauce with a light marine(fishy) taste that is not heavy. The salty flavor comes from the saltiness of the oysters, while the sweet is complex, with hints of caramel.

The flavor of the oyster sauce is nothing fancy. This sauce gives your meals a pleasantly salty, savory, and sweet taste, but it also has an earthy sensation on the tongue.

The presence of this earthy feeling suggests the quality of any oyster sauce.

It is a bit less salty than soy sauce and is rich in umami. The primary purpose of adding oyster sauce to your food is to add pleasantly salty flavors to various dishes.

The consistency of the oyster sauce is thick and syrup-like, and it’s dark brown.

Is Oyster Sauce Bad For You?

The Oyster sauce makes the food taste nicer when added in moderate amounts. However, it does not benefit the body if you take it excessively as it does not have any significant quantity of minerals and vitamins, nor protein or fiber. 

You should remember one thing: that oyster is high in sodium. Most oyster sauces in the supermarket contain added monosodium glutamate (MSG).

High amounts of sodium are known to cause an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, the main cause of heart disease and stroke.

How To Use Oyster Sauce

Here are some great ways to use Oyster sauce –

  • It is best to use a small quantity at first. It has a strong flavor that can be overwhelming if added too much. 
  • Use it to drizzle on top of steamed vegetables. 
  • Add the oyster sauce when stir-frying food. It gives the food a glossy appearance.
  • Another method is when oyster sauce, in a stir fry, is combined with soy sauce, mirin (rice wine), rice vinegar, and brown sugar and then briefly cooked with the vegetables and meat to coat.

Here’s the link to the video

Does Oyster Sauce Taste Fishy?

No, it does not. Oyster sauce, as the name suggests, is made from oyster extracts. Despite its name, the oyster sauce doesn’t taste like fish at all. Instead, it is a rich syrup-like sauce with a slightly sweet and salty taste. It has an earthy flavor as well.

Oyster sauce is a mixture of oyster juice, salt, cornstarch, sugar, and some versions of soy sauce.  

How Is Oyster Sauce Made?

Oysters are the main ingredient of this sauce.

Oysters are cooked in water for a long time, which results in caramelized oyster juices. Then salt, sugar, and soy sauce are added to this juice at times.

The liquid is then thickened with wheat flour or cornstarch to give it a sauce-like consistency.

Watch the recipe here

Oyster Sauce Is Gluten-Free? 

No, and yes. Oyster sauce is not a gluten-free sauce because it usually contains wheat flour. Wheat flour is used to thicken the oyster sauce. Unless the label specifically says that the sauce is gluten-free, there’s a high chance of wheat flour in oyster sauce.

 So oyster sauce may or may not be gluten-free.

Oyster Sauce Is Same As Hoisin Sauce

It is possible to confuse these sauces since they are both Cantonese, dark brown in color, and thicker in consistency. But they are used in dissimilar ways and are made of very other ingredients as well.

Hoisin sauce is vegan because it is made from fermented soybeans, garlic, chiles,  five-spice powder, and sugar. Oyster sauce is made from oyster extract.

It is a mixture of oyster juices and salt and sugar, and some versions contain soy sauce thickened with cornstarch.

Oyster Sauce Is The Same As Fish Sauce?

Oyster sauce is made from oyster juices and other ingredients that give more flavor to it. On the other hand, fish sauce is made of only two ingredients – fermented fish and salt. This is why fish sauce and oyster sauce are different in flavor, color, aroma, and consistency.

Fish sauce is exceptionally salty. Moreover, it has a reddish-brown color and is mainly used as a condiment. It also has a powerful fishy flavor, and it is clear and watery.

In contrast, oyster sauce is undoubtedly darker, thicker, and sweeter than fish sauce. Plus, it only has a subtle salty taste.

How To Store Oyster Sauce

Unopened, oyster sauce can be ideally stored in the pantry for one year, but once opened, the sauce must be refrigerated, lasting around six months. As for the canned oyster sauce, it should be transferred to a closed jar and refrigerated.

Make sure you store it away from heated appliances. 

Is Oyster Sauce Vegan?

No, the oyster sauce is not vegan. But there is vegan oyster sauce, which is made with mushrooms instead of oysters. It is pretty similar in texture and color to regular oyster sauce, but the vegan sauce is thinner.

You can use the vegan version in any dish that asks for the use of oyster sauce. You can either buy vegan oyster sauce or make it at your home. 

Watch the vegan version recipe

In The End 

Hope this guide helped you understand the taste of the oyster sauce.

If you have any queries, please let me know!

Share this with your friends and family and help them know about oyster sauce too!

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About Betty Ellis

Betty is a food researcher who spends most of her time analyzing the nutritional aspects of various foods. She also researches methods to enhance taste, as well as how to store certain types of foods. She enjoys cooking for herself and her three dogs even though she doesn't have a lot of free time outside work.

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