Cocktail Sauce. Soon he started selling his newly invented seasoning, which turned out to be a hit with the locals. [5][6] He ran a tea stall that sold cooked oysters. One day, Lee was cooking oysters as usual, but he lost track of time and left them to simmer until he smelled a strong aroma. Oh, boy! If using as a garnish, the oyster sauce is simply poured straight from the bottle. Oyster sauce was invented accidentally by Lee Kum Sheung in Nanshui, Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, in 1888. The Times, 22 October 1835 "On Monday afternoon...", "Fashions for August" Liverpool Mercury 9 August 1833, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Family of Chinese Oyster Sauce Empire Gives $21 Million to Harvard", "Made in Hong Kong: The History of Lee Kum Kee's Oyster Sauce – So Good it is Served in Space", "Chart with five mentions of affected oyster sauces", The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oyster_sauce&oldid=991007805, Articles lacking reliable references from September 2018, Articles containing Chinese-language text, Articles needing expert attention from September 2018, History articles needing expert attention, Miscellaneous articles needing expert attention, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 19:45. When part of a stir-fry, oyster sauce is combined with other ingredients such as mirin (rice wine), soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar and then briefly cooked along with the vegetables and meat to coat. It is also found in popular Chinese-American dishes such as beef with stir-fried vegetables. Some oyster sauce manufacturers have improved the process to produce oyster sauce en masse with automation. "True" oyster sauce of good quality should be made by condensing oyster extracts, the white broth produced by boiling oysters in water. Oyster sauce? It is used in many Chinese recipes. It may contain more taste enhancers if less mushroom extract is used to reduce costs. Lower quality sauces will also have a fishy taste. And remember, for this dish you don’t need huge amounts. It brings out the umami flavour in the best delicacies while adding texture and flavour to everyday dishes, which makes it a condiment of choice indispensable for both professional or home kitchens. Most of the oyster sauces available on the market contain added monosodium glutamate (MSG). [11][12] The white sauce version was moistened with cream, whereas in brown oyster sauce, the cream was replaced with gravy. Liv Wan is a former professional chef who has published three cookbooks about Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. Go for the best you can find. Both chemicals have the potential to cause cancer, and the Agency recommended that the affected products be withdrawn from shelves and avoided.[19][20]. FoodData Central. Vegetarian oyster sauce prepared from mushrooms, often oyster mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms, is also popular and generally lower in price. Some versions may be darkened with caramel, though high-quality oyster sauce is naturally dark. It is both salty and sweet; the salt comes from the brininess of the oysters while the sweet is complex, with hints of caramel. Other ingredients, such as soy sauce and MSG, may also be added to deepen the flavour and ad… Unopened, oyster sauce can be stored in the pantry for one year, but once opened, bottled oyster sauce must be refrigerated, where it will last six months. Oyster extracts or essences are then used to give flavour to the base sauce. It is a condiment with a gusty flavor like a pungent steak sauce; but bedded down in the thick, brown liquid is a salty, full bouquet quite unlike anything in Western cuisines. It is added to other sauces, used as a sauce on its own, or drizzled on top of steamed vegetables (often Chinese broccoli in Cantonese cuisine) as a finishing touch. In 2001, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency found in tests of various oyster sauces and soy sauces that 22% of samples contained a chemical called 3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol) at levels considerably higher than those deemed safe by the European Union. Hoisin sauce is vegan, as it is made from fermented soybeans along with garlic, five-spice powder, chiles, and sugar. Get daily tips and expert advice to help you take your cooking skills to the next level. However, they are used in varying ways in Chinese cooking and are made of very different ingredients. It is the condiment for the popular Chinese restaurant dishes moo shu pork and chicken lettuce wraps, and is also brushed onto duck and spareribs as they are cooked. Quality always trumps quantity. When part of a stir-fry, oyster sauce is combined with other ingredients such as mirin (rice wine), soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar and then briefly cooked along with the vegetables and meat to coat. What it does have is a lot of is sodium, as much as 492 milligrams in 1 tablespoon. The sauce is a staple for much Chinese family-style cooking. It is less salty than soy sauce and full of umami. The oyster extracts are mixed with sugar, corn starch and the like with the weighing and mixing processes powered by an automatic electronic system before uniform blending on the automatic production line. Oyster sauce describes a number of sauces made by cooking oysters. Today, many shortcuts have been made to create a similar flavour more quickly and at reduced cost. The most popular way to incorporate oyster sauce into a recipe is in a stir-fry sauce. [13] Common recipes using the sauce included "Steak and oyster sauce", documented as early as 1806,[14][15][16][17] and "Cod and oyster sauce". It is possible to confuse these two sauces as they are both Cantonese, dark brown in color, and have a thick consistency. Oyster sauce adds a savory flavour to many dishes, making it an ideal choice for flavouring meat and vegetables. Oyster sauces are well known for its magic of “bringing out the umami taste in flavourful foods” while “adding flavour to bland ingredients”, serving as versatile condiment ideal for umami-inducing, flavour enhancement, colour-enriching, brightness-adding and sauce-retaining for different cuisines. Oyster sauce tastes like a combination of soy sauce and barbecue sauce. The cooked sauce is transferred to the filling system through sealed pipelines, and reaches the market shelves only after multiple rounds of inspection. Sauce, oyster, ready-to-serve. Although the Buddhist vegetarian diet does permit the eating of oysters, most vegetarians do not eat shellfish, and thus, the vegetarian brands, such as Lee Kum Kee, use mushrooms as a substitute for the oysters. The panda-featuring brand I buy apparently contains 11% ‘oyster extractives’. He founded Lee Kum Kee to promote oyster sauce and other Chinese sauces and condiments to all corners of the world. Dishes that may use oyster sauce include Crab in oyster sauce, Kai-lan, Buddha's delight, Hainanese chicken rice, Cashew chicken, Lo mein, Cha siu baau, Har gow, Kai yat sai, Wonton noodles, and Daikon cake. However, this method is prohibitively expensive. Oyster sauce is dark brown, almost black in color, and has a thick consistency. Plenty of oyster lovers claim … Oyster sauce is normally sold in bottles, but it is sometimes packaged in cans. The popularity of oyster sauce in the international market has lifted its application in different cuisines apart from Chinese. Instead, oyster sauce has an earthy, slightly sweet, and salty taste. If using as a garnish, the oyster sauce is simply poured straight from the bottle. It is used in both meat and vegetable dishes, mainly in Cantonese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines. Much oyster? Oyster extracts or essences are then used to give flavour to the base sauce. Popular brands are Hop Sing Lung and Lee Kum Kee. Oyster sauce is a rich, syruplike sauce that is used in Chinese cuisine. Updated April 1, 2019. Other ingredients, such as soy sauce and MSG, may also be added to deepen the flavour and add colour. The quality of the oyster sauce will greatly affect the flavour.[7]. It is commonly used in noodle stir-fries, such as chow mein. Oyster sauce is similar in price to soy sauce but can range in cost depending on the brand. Traditionally, oyster sauce is made by slowly simmering oysters in water until the juices caramelise into a thick, brown, intensely flavourful sauce. It is a mixture of boiled down oyster juices (which have caramelized), along with salt and sugar; some versions include soy sauce thickened with cornstarch. Oyster sauce is used straight from the bottle. It may be found in the Asian section of the international food aisle of the supermarket, as well as Asian groceries and online. Oyster sauce is a combination of oysters, soy sauce, salty brine, and various seasonings, usually garlic, ginger, sugar, and leeks. Although derived from cooked oysters,there’s nothing fishy about the taste of oyster sauce. The sauce. In recent years MSG-free varieties can also be found.[10]. Some regional Chinese cuisines use oyster sauce at the table […] The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.