Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce?

In this article, we answer the following question: Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce? We told you how to use oyster sauce and what are its benefits. 

Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce?

You can use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce in almost any dish since it has a similar taste and flavor. Both oyster sauce and fish sauce are aromatic liquids, with a salty, reddish-brown taste. 

Both sauces are essential in the kitchen. They are used to season and marinate all kinds of dishes: meat, fish and shellfish, salads, stews, soups … They also serve as an accompaniment to multiple starters. Learning to make them, in some cases, is more complicated than it seems but finding them already prepared is becoming easier.

Fish sauce, also known as “fish gravy” is made with fermented fish in brine. There are as many varieties as fermented fish, but in each country, one of them stands out: nam pla, in Thailand; the nuoc mam, in Vietnam; patism, in the Philippines, and shottsuru, in Japan.

These fish sauces are marketed in liquid, ground, or dried form depending on the type of recipe to be made. An example of this is takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls), where it is common to see it dried into flakes. Getting them is easier if you go to an Asian supermarket since, in Western cuisine, they are not used much.

Oyster sauce was invented in Cantonese cuisine and is prepared with a broth together with the oysters that are simmered until only a thick brown sauce remains.

Usually, a few more ingredients are added, especially to help the sauce preserve better or to improve its color and texture. There is also a vegetarian oyster sauce of shiitake mushrooms instead of oysters. Both sauces are sold in Chinatown in any US state, but you have to look closely at the label to figure out which is the vegetarian variant and which is the common one, but there are both.

Why use oyster sauce?

With oysters cooked in brine and fermented, the Chinese make one of the best-known sauces in Asian cuisine.

 Dark, thick, viscous, salty, and with a sweet background, it contains few oysters (one of the best-known commercial brands, LKK, barely incorporates 4% oyster extract) although it does have soy sauce, caramel, sugar, corn.

There is even a vegan version of the oyster sauce, in which they are substituted for mushrooms). This famous sauce does not taste of mollusks, shellfish, or fish. It has a pungent odor and a strong taste that can even be unpleasant if taken alone. 

Perhaps that is why it goes very well in stir-fries and stews (which it raises if they have been left with little grace), with meats, as well as with vegetables, pasta, and fish broths.

How to use oyster sauce?

This sauce is generally the last ingredient to add to stir-fries with vegetables, meat, or fish. One of the best-known dishes in which it is used is Chinese beef or broccoli strips in oyster sauce.

The amount used depends on the brand you use. In general, it can be said that the more expensive the bottle, the stronger the oyster extract will be and in that case, you should not use it as much. The same goes for the vegetarian version that is not made from oysters, which has more and less expensive varieties. 

It’s very easy to use too much and ruin a dish, so you always have to test while adding the sauce, to make sure it’s not getting too strong. After opening it can be stored for up to a year in the refrigerator.

Using soy sauce instead of fish sauce

Consider using soy sauce instead of fish sauce. Soy sauce is a traditional Asian spice, obtained by fermenting a soybean paste with salt and enzymes.

This special spice appeared about 2200 years ago, in western Ancient China during the Han Dynasty, where it was used to season various dishes. From here it spread to East and Southeast Asia and even further, gaining more and more popularity in Europe and the West.

Soy sauce has a rich aroma, and its taste is very similar to table salt. According to an article published in 2009 in the Journal of Food Science, it was found that replacing soy sauce with table salt did not reduce the intensity of food taste, even though the total sodium content was reduced. In some cases, there was less than 50% sodium in the food, with no change in taste.

Also, the content of vitamins in soy sauce, mainly vitamin C helps the body fight against various infections and supports the immune system.

The bottom line

In this article, we answered the following question: Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce? We told you how to use oyster sauce and what are its benefits. 

You can use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce. Other options are also soy sauce or hoisin sauce. These sauces are used to season and marinate all kinds of dishes: meat, fish and shellfish, salads, stews, soups … They also serve as an accompaniment to multiple starters. 

Fish sauce is like salt in European food. Although it has a strong smell and is quite offensive, when it is heated, alone or with other ingredients, the smell disappears. However, if you do not like fish sauce or have difficulties finding it, the oyster sauce will be a great alternative.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

References

Newideafood.com  – Oyster sauce vs fish sauce: what’s the difference?

Bonappetit.com – What Exactly Is Oyster Sauce? 

Tastessence.com – Oyster Sauce Vs. Fish Sauce

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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