6 Oyster Sauce Substitutes for Asian Cooking
Don’t let the absence of oyster sauce keep you from creating a mouthwatering Asian-inspired dish. Whether you’re looking for a vegan-friendly alternative to oyster sauce or you’re just out of oyster sauce and need a substitution, there are plenty of options to choose from that will give your dish the same flavor profile.
Here are 6 great alternatives for oyster sauce.
1. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment that has long been a staple in Asian cooking to add flavor and saltiness to dishes. In recent years, more and more people have started using soy sauce as a substitute for oyster sauce since they are made from similar ingredients such as fermented bean paste.
Can I Use Soy Sauce Instead of Oyster Sauce?
Yes, you can use soy sauce instead of oyster sauce. Both soy sauce and oyster sauce contain savory umami flavors that can accentuate the taste of a wide variety of foods. But unlike oyster sauce which is made from seafood extracts or oyster juices, soy sauce is completely vegan-friendly and can be used by anyone following a plant-based diet.
Because of its umami flavor and high salt content, soy sauce works really well as a secondary flavor component in many dishes. As such, it can be used to add depth to sauces, marinades, dressings, soups, and stews without overpowering the other ingredients. Additionally, due to its consistency and viscosity, soy sauce makes a great base for dipping sauces or glazes that can be brushed on meats or vegetables.
Even though soy sauce is quite tasty, it really doesn’t offer much in terms of supporting health and wellness. A single tablespoon of soy sauce can contain up to 1000 mg of sodium, which is more than 40% of the daily recommended value. High sodium consumption can lead to a number of health issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, some people are sensitive or allergic to soy products, so you might be better off with other options instead.
Best for: cooking, sauces, marinades, dressings, soups, stews, glazes, stir-fries, braised dishes, noodle soups
How to Substitute Soy Sauce for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
For a milder flavor that allows other ingredients to shine through more easily, it’s generally recommended to use ½ tablespoon of soy sauce for every 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. To add more intensity, use 1 ¼ tablespoon of soy sauce for every 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce.
Also, it’s important to make sure that you are keeping track of the sodium content in your recipe as well. If your recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon of salt, be sure to use the same amount or slightly reduce it when replacing the oyster sauce with soy sauce.
2. Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a popular Asian condiment that is often used in stir-fries, noodles, and other dishes. This thick and fragrant sauce gets its rich flavor from a variety of ingredients, including soybeans, red chilis, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves.
Can I Use Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce Instead of Oyster Sauce?
Yes, you can. In fact, despite its name which translates to “seafood,” hoisin sauce does not contain any seafood products, which is why it is considered an excellent vegan substitute for oyster sauce. Oyster sauce tends to be more salty than sweet, while hoisin sauce is the opposite; hoisin is sweeter and less salty, while still having that umami flavor. This is why hoisin is best paired with a bit of soy sauce if it is to be used as an oyster sauce substitute.
Hoisin sauce is typically thicker and sweeter than oyster sauce, with ingredients such as soybean paste, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. On the other hand, oyster sauce tends to be lighter, with a more umami taste from the oysters or mushrooms. Both hoisin and oyster sauce can be used for flavoring stir-fries, marinating meats, table condiment, and noodle seasonings.
Best for: sauces, soups, stews, stir-fries, roasts, braised recipes, savory recipes, glazes, marinades, dipping
How to Substitute Hoisin and Soy Sauce for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with ½ tablespoon of hoisin and ½ tablespoon of soy sauce.
Some of the most popular varieties include traditional hoisin, amber hoisin, smooth hoisin, and sweet hoisin. Traditional hoisin is often made with soybeans and contains a full-bodied flavor that is both savory and slightly sweet, so this type would be best when used as a substitute for oyster sauce.
3. Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce is a great substitute for oyster sauce because it contains many of the same essential ingredients and has a similar flavor profile. Like oyster sauce, teriyaki sauce is made from soy sauce, which provides savory umami flavors that enhance the taste of any dish.
Can I Use Teriyaki Sauce Instead of Oyster Sauce
Yes, teriyaki sauce can serve as a good substitute for oyster sauce in cooking. Although it may not have the same depth of flavor or richness as oyster sauce, teriyaki sauce can easily be added to sauces, marinades, and other dishes to create that signature umami flavor.
While teriyaki sauce can be delicious when added to a variety of foods, it is not actually a very healthy choice. This is because it contains very little nutrients with high amounts of sodium. Sodium is an important nutrient that our bodies need to function properly. However, consuming too much of it can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, and even heart disease. Additionally, many brands of teriyaki sauce contain artificial flavors or preservatives that may cause negative health effects.
Best for: sauces, soups, stews, stir-fries, roasts, braised recipes, savory recipes, glazes, marinades
How to Substitute Teriyaki Sauce for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce.
Teriyaki sauce has more water and sugar compared to oyster sauce, so you may need to tweak some of the other ingredients in your recipe to preserve some of its thickness and viscosity.
4. Worcestershire and Sugar
The combination of worcestershire sauce and sugar together is a fantastic oyster sauce substitute if you’re looking for something that’s vegan-friendly. This combination creates a bold, umami-rich flavor profile that complements many different types of food.
Can I Use Worcestershire Sauce and Sugar Instead of Oyster Sauce?
Yes, it can definitely work. Worcestershire and sugar tend to have somewhat milder, sweeter flavors that do not pack as strong a punch, but they can be used as an oyster sauce substitute in some recipes. The taste of worcestershire is quite complex; it is tangy, spicy, and salty all at once. On the other hand, the typical sweetness of sugar helps balance out the tanginess and brings out the umami in your recipe.
Worcestershire sauce is made with a base of vinegar and other ingredients like anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, and garlic. This blend of ingredients creates a uniquely balanced and complex flavor that works great with a batch of southern-style BBQ ribs or over some meaty tacos, Unfortunately, worcestershire sauce offers little to no nutritional value, and it’s best consumed sparingly or in moderation.
Best for: sauces, fudges, shakes, smoothies, hot drinks, cold drinks, flavored drinks, chilled recipes, soups, stews, curries, dals, custards
How to Substitute Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce, ½ tablespoon of sugar, and ½ tablespoon of soy sauce.
The combination of worcestershire sauce and soy sauce together helps gies that balance of sweet and salty, which can be added to a multitude of savory dishes. It helps that these brown sauces are typically all used in similar cuisines, so the flavors work well together.
5. Fish Sauce and Sugar
Fish sauce is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and it’s easy to see why. This salty, umami-rich condiment adds a unique depth of flavor to dishes, but it’s often misunderstood since it has such a strong smell and fishy taste.
Can I Use Fish Sauce and Sugar Instead of Oyster Sauce?
Yes, you can use fish sauce and sugar instead of oyster sauce. It will be a little tricky to find the right balance of fish sauce and sugar in your recipes, but it can certainly work if you’re out of options. The reason why fish sauce and sugar may work is because fish sauce is extremely salty, so when it is balanced out with some sugar, it can be similar to oyster sauce when mixed into your recipe such as with soups or marinades. However if your recipe calls for the specific brown sauce and texture that oyster sauce is known for, fish sauce and sugar isn’t the best option because it looks entirely different.
Fish sauce is an incredibly tasty condiment, and a little certainly goes a long way. It’s perfect for adding a punch of flavor to any dish, however it is high in sodium and offers little to no nutritional value. For these reasons, it’s best to enjoy fish sauce in moderation or to avoid it altogether.
Best for: soups, stews, marinades, stir-fries, braised recipes
How to Substitute Fish Sauce and Sugar for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with ½ tablespoon of fish sauce and ½ tablespoon of sugar.
This duo will add both salty and sweet notes to your dish, which can take the place of oyster sauce in some of your recipes. Bear in mind that the exact ratio of fish sauce to sugar may vary slightly depending on the dominant flavors in your dish. For instance, if your recipe already contains a good amount of sodium, you may want to slightly reduce the fish sauce and increase the sugar instead.
6. Canned Black Bean Paste and Sugar
Canned black bean paste is a thick, dark sauce made from mashed fermented black soybeans. It’s extremely salty with an earth flavor that goes well with stir-fries, braised dishes, and soups. It is typically used in Chinese cuisine, but is popular all throughout Asia.
Can I Use Canned Black Bean Paste and Sugar Instead of Oyster Sauce?
Yes, definitely. Canned black beans are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, used to add depth and flavor to savory dishes. It has an earthy and slightly nutty flavor, and it has the added benefit of looking like oyster sauce in terms of appearance. As such, black bean paste can be used in recipes that make use of oyster sauce as a glaze or as a dipping sauce.
Canned black beans are a good source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. However, they are also high in sodium. One cup of canned black beans contains about 640 milligrams of sodium, which is about one-third of the daily recommended limit for adults.
Best for: dipping sauces, glazes, marinades, soups, stews, braised recipes, savory recipes
How to Substitute Canned Black Bean Paste and Sugar for Oyster Sauce
Substitute 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with 1 tablespoon of canned black bean paste and sugar.
To replace oyster sauce in a recipe, simply drain and rinse a can of black beans. It’s important to use canned black beans instead of cooking the black beans yourself. Canned black beans already contain a good amount of sodium, so you don’t have to add any more soy sauce or salt to them.
Once you’ve rinsed the can of black beans, you can then add the beans to a blender or food processor with ¼ cup of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Blend until the mixture is smooth, then use it as you would oyster sauce. This yields approximately 1 cup of sauce.
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