Need a comparison for oyster sauce and fish sauce? There’s nothing worse than opening the pantry to find you’re fresh out. Here, we’ve broken down the difference between them as well as the best substitutes for each.
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.
A typical dish made with oyster sauce
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.
A typical dish made with fish sauce
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?
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)
Lottie DalzielLottie Dalziel is a 4AM riser and coffee-addict who lives and breathes the Better Homes and Gardens brand. When she isn't reading up on the latest trends in sustainability or discovering ways to upcycle almost anything, you can find her by the beach, cooking up a storm or adding to her abundant (some would say out of control) plant collection.