Oyster sauce has been and will always be a key ingredient in many Asian dishes. Authentic Asian meals are just simply not the same without it. Oyster sauce is a pungent and soft fermented mixture that adds lasting and distinct flavor to numerous Asian dishes.
TRADITIONAL OYSTER SAUCE
Traditionally, oyster sauce was made by simmering oysters slowly in water until it caramelizes, creating a brown, thick, and highly flavorful sauce. On the other hand, while you may find sauces made traditionally, most will be made with shortcuts to save money and time. In today's oyster sauces, the majority of it have a base of sugar and salt and cornstarch to act as the thickener. Other ingredients include: oyster essence, MSG, and soy sauce. In addition, some vegans use oyster mushrooms to achieve an umami flavor similar to oysters.
The sauce perfectly holds a sweet and salty taste, providing an earthy, rich undertone courtesy of the oyster extracts. Since this sauce might not always be available or affordable, there are several substitutes you may want to consider at some point.
1. SOY SAUCE
As an oyster sauce substitute, soy sauce will give you the salty taste and dark brown color. This is a good alternative for vegans and vegetarians for it provides similarity when it comes to taste. However, that oyster sauce is slightly sweet so you will want to add a half teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon of soy sauce to achieve the flavors of oyster sauce.
2. HOISIN SAUCE
Hoisin sauce is a reddish-brown, dark, and thick sauce just like oyster sauce. Typically, it was used for dipping, glazing, and marinating, which has led to its title as the “Chinese barbecue sauce” because of its uses. You may also hear hoisin sauce called Peking sauce since this sauce creates the thick glaze found on Peking duck. The word hoisin comes from the Cantonese word meaning seafood.
3. FISH SAUCE
Fish sauce works well as a substitute because it has the same texture as to the original sauce. The source of the fish sauce varies from dried or raw fish. Depending on the area, there may be a mixture of fish used in the preparation or only a specific variety. Fish sauce is popular around the world and found in many dishes and sauces.
4. MUSHROOM SOY SAUCE
Mushroom soy sauce is a combination of soy sauce and mushroom sauce; that results to an oyster sauce vibe. The mixture is soft and has a slightly sweet taste and deep mushroom flavor. It is made from fermented soybeans and mushrooms that produce the rich flavor of mushroom sauce as well as the viscosity of thinner soy sauce.
5. MUSHROOM SAUCE
Mushroom sauce, commonly known as a vegetarian oyster sauce is probably the substitute in terms of color and flavor for oyster sauce. This vegan alternative can be a direct substitute for oyster sauce in any recipe and is made using vegetable proteins as well as multiple types of mushrooms. This is the ideal substitute sauce because it has the similar consistency to oyster sauce.
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