Is oyster sauce the same as fish sauce?
Oyster sauce is made from a mixture of carmelised oyster juices, salt, sugar and soy sauce that’s been thickened with corn starch. Fish sauce is made with just two ingredients: fermented fish and salt. As a result, the sauces are totally different in taste, flavour and aroma.
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Much like soy sauce, fish sauce is a very salty, reddish-brown sauce that’s mostly used as a condiment. It has a strong ‘fishy’ flavour and watery, clear consistency. On the other hand, oyster sauce is much thicker, darker and far sweeter, with a subtle salty undertone.
What do they add to a recipe?
Oyster sauce is a staple in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Khmer cuisines and is commonly used to enhance the taste of meat and seafood-based dishes. It also adds complexity and depth to noodle stir-fries.
As well as Southeast Asian kitchens, fish sauce can be widely found in savoury Mediterranean food. It is often used to season soups, as part of a dipping sauce, or in marinades.
Are oyster sauce and fish sauce interchangeable?
As the two sauces are substantially different, substituting one for the other will likely change the taste of your food entirely.
What is the best substitute for each sauce?
- Worcestershire sauce
- Soy sauce (either light or dark) with minced anchovies
- Light soy sauce with a splash of lime juice
- Vegetarian oyster sauce (sometimes labelled as Mushroom stir fry sauce)
- Kecap Manis
- Dark soy sauce and brown sugar
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