Fish Sauce vs Oyster Sauce: How do they Compare?

Today, both fish sauce and oyster sauce are utilized in Chinese cooking. Fish sauce was frequently used in ancient Mediterranean cuisine, dating back to the 4th-3rd centuries BC, according to Greek records.

In comparison to fish sauce, oyster sauce is significantly more contemporary. It was invented in 1888 by a Southern Chinese restauranteur called Mr. Lee Kum Sheung.

His oyster soup had been ignored, and it had reduced to a thick sauce. Instead of discarding his oyster syrup, he sampled it and found this popular sauce. These sauces provide a distinct taste to stir-fry.

Fish sauce and oyster sauce, despite their identical names, have vastly different tastes. Fish sauce has a considerably stronger fish taste than oyster sauce, which has a sweeter, earthier flavor.

Difference Between Fish and Oyster Sauce

The primary distinction between fish sauce and oyster sauce is their composition. Fish sauce is commonly created from fermented anchovy juice and salt, while oyster sauce is made from the caramelized juice of fried oysters, sugar, and salt.

These sauces have distinct tastes and purposes in Asian cuisine due to the various ingredients and techniques of preparation.

Fish sauce seems to be a rich, reddish-golden brown transparent tint, but oyster sauce appears to be a dark brown, nearly black color.

The consistency of fish sauce is thin and watery. The oyster sauce is rich and syrupy.

Obtaining Method: Fish sauce is prepared by fermenting salted fish without the use of heat. This is a lengthy procedure that will take 3-12 months to finish. The fish sauce is made from the liquid containing fish extract acquired throughout this procedure.

Oyster sauce was traditionally created by slowly cooking oysters in water over low heat for hours, until the liquid caramelized and reduced into the delectable sauce. Thickeners such as cornstarch are now utilized to speed up the production of oyster sauce.

The taste of fish sauce is characterized as umami. Fish sauce has a particular taste that combines salty, earthy, savory, fishy, briny elements with sweet and acidic undertones. Oyster sauce has a rich caramelized taste rather than a strong fishy flavor. Oyster sauce is saltier and sweeter than fish sauce.

Fish sauce has a stronger fishy aroma than oyster sauce. It smells more fishy than it tastes. The aroma of oyster sauce is earthy and salty.

Fish sauce has a longer shelf life than its rival, oyster sauce. Fish sauce may be stored on your pantry shelves for 3 to 4 years, but oyster sauce only lasts 18 to 24 months.

Fish sauce is much more costly than oyster sauce. A 6.76 fl oz bottle of fish sauce costs $3.13 at a local grocery, but a 9 fl oz bottle of oyster sauce costs just $2.68.

Uses include stir-fries, soups, marinades, braised meats, pasta sauces, vinaigrettes, and yogurt dips. Oyster sauce is widely used in stir-fries, but it is also used in Asian barbecue sauce, as a marinade, or as a glazing sauce.

Fish sauce originated with the Ancient Greeks and swiftly traveled to Ancient China. Oyster sauce originated in southern China and has since expanded to Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisines.

Fish sauce is created using fermented fish brine and spices such as peppercorns, garlic, sea salt, bay leaves, and lemon. Oyster sauce is commonly produced with caramelized oyster juice, salt, sugar, corn starch, and spices.

Fish vs Oyster Sauce Comparison Table

  Fish Sauce Oyster Sauce
Appearance Translucent, brown Dark brown/black
Consistency Thin and watery Thick, syrup-like
Acquiring Method Fermentation Simmering
Flavor Fishy, salty, briny, tangy Sweet, salty, earthy
Aroma Fishy Carmelized
Ingredients Fish, spices, brine Oysters, salt, sugar
Uses Stir-fry, marinades, soups Marinades, stir-fry, bbq
Origination Ancient Greece Southern China
Cost $3.13 for 6.76 fl oz $2.68 for 9 fl oz
Shelf Life 3 to 4 years 18 to 24 months

Can You Substitute Fish Sauce for Oyster Sauce?

Many people have inquired if you can switch fish sauce for oyster sauce and vice versa. The quick answer is yes. If you use fish sauce instead of oyster sauce, the meal will have a different consistency and will be overly salty and sour.

Because of the salt levels, it is suggested that you use less fish sauce if the recipe asks for oyster sauce.

If the recipe asks for fish sauce, substituting oyster sauce may give the meal a sweeter taste, and you may want to add additional salt or even soy sauce.

If you only have one sauce and are creating a stir-fry, any sauce will result in a fantastic supper. Remember to tweak some of your other components for the best-tasting final meal.

It’s not a huge problem if you’re creating a meal with fish and the recipe asks for fish sauce but you substitute oyster sauce. If you use fish sauce instead of oyster sauce in a recipe that does not call for fish, be prepared for a fishy flavor.

It is not suggested to use fish sauce in place of oyster sauce in non-fish recipes.

Hoisin vs. Oyster Sauce: What’s the Difference?

What is Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is a salty condiment produced from fermented anchovies. Fish sauce is clearly important in seasoning meals in Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

Despite its popularity in Asian cuisine, fish sauce was originally recorded by the ancient Greeks in Roman times. Claudio Giardino, an Italian archaeologist, discovered garum (a word for fish sauce) in Roman literature as early as the 4th century BC.

Garum factory ruins have been discovered in Spain, Northern Africa, and Portugal.

In ancient times, Pompeii was also famed for producing fish sauce. According to some historians, the notion of fermenting fish with salt arose independently in both the East and the West. It is believed that the well-known Asian fish sauce emerged in Vietnam shortly after the Greeks.

When the fish was fermented with soybeans, it became a derivation of Chinese soy sauce.

Regardless of its origins, fish sauce is rather simple. For months, fish is fermented in a 4:1 salt-to-fish ratio. This combination is allowed to ferment, resulting in the sauce we now know as fish sauce.

Many recipes with additional ingredients and spices may be found on the internet. These are all fish sauces, however the original fish sauce had just two recipes: anchovies and salt.

How to Use Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a versatile condiment that adds umami and savory overtones to every recipe that uses it. It may be found in dipping sauces, vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, braises, soups, pasta sauces, curries, barbecue sauce, and stir-fries. It works well as a salt alternative and adds a tangy taste to your cuisine.

When you want to add a little Asian flavor to your food, try fish sauce.

What is Oyster Sauce?

Caramelized oyster fluids, salt, and sugar are combined to make oyster sauce, a sweet and salty condiment. Oyster sauce, which was accidentally created in 1888, has become a staple in Chinese and Thai cuisines. In Asian culture, oyster sauce is a relatively new staple condiment.

Chef Lee Kum Sheung left his oysters on the burner for hours one day at a teahouse in Guangdong. When he went to check on his meal, he saw a thick, dark paste that had reduced from the oyster fluids. Instead of tossing it away, he tried it. He discovered how tasty it was, and so oyster sauce was formed.

There are several varieties of oyster sauce available nowadays. Because of the enormous demand, manufacturing businesses have abandoned the traditional method of creating oyster sauce, which takes hours.

They have chosen more efficient methods of making the condiment, thickening it with colors and cornstarch. There is also a vegetarian variation made from mushrooms.

How to Use Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce adds a delightful umami taste to your foods. Stir-fries, dipping sauces, marinades, Asian barbeque sauce, and glazing sauces are all frequent uses for it. Oyster sauce may also be used as a sauce for spring rolls and egg rolls directly from the bottle.

Oyster sauce adds a salty, earthy taste to any meal. Here’s a dish that highlights the taste of oyster sauce.


Which is better fish sauce or oyster sauce?

The sauce made from fish

This sauce has a thinner consistency and a fishier flavor than oyster sauce since it is derived from fermented fish. It’s also less sweet and saltier. Fish sauce may be especially appropriate for tasty foods that will not be overshadowed by it or that already have a fishy flavor, such as stir-fried fish.

Can fish sauce and oyster sauce be interchanged?

Because it has a comparable savory taste to fish sauce, oyster sauce may readily substitute it in most stir-fry recipes. Oyster sauce, on the other hand, is somewhat thicker and would not be an acceptable substitution for meals that call for the thin consistency of fish sauce. One alternative is to thin the oyster sauce with a little water.

How similar are fish and oyster sauce?

Is oyster sauce similar to fish sauce? Fish sauce, like soy sauce, is an extremely salty, reddish-brown sauce that is mostly used as a condiment. It has a pronounced ‘fishy’ flavor and a watery, transparent texture. Oyster sauce, on the other hand, is considerably thicker, darker, and significantly sweeter, with a mild salty undertone.

Is US oyster sauce and fish sauce the same thing?

Fish sauce is commonly created from fermented anchovy juice and salt, while oyster sauce is made from the caramelized juice of fried oysters, sugar, and salt. These sauces have distinct tastes and purposes in Asian cuisine due to the various ingredients and techniques of preparation.

Why is fish sauce so popular?

We appreciate the flavor of fish sauce because it has umami, which is an earthy, savory flavor profile that makes foods like mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and soy sauce seem nuanced and crave-able. Sure, there’s a strong, pungent fishiness to the sauce, but it’s balanced with a salty, briny, caramel-y sweetness.

What is oyster sauce best for?

Oyster sauce is a salty condiment that is widely used in stir fries but may also be found in stews, soups, marinades, and even as a drizzle over steamed vegetables.

Does fish sauce need to be refrigerated?

Purchasing and Storing Fish Sauce

It should be kept in a cold, dark location, such as the pantry, and away from any hot spots in your kitchen, such as immediately over the stove. Fish sauce should not be stored in the refrigerator since cold temperatures cause the salt to crystallize over time.

What do you use fish sauce for?

How to Prepare Fish Sauce
Marinades. Because fish sauce is salty and umami, it works well as a marinade.
Sauce for stir-frying. Stir-fried meals benefit greatly from fish sauce.
Soups, stews, and curries are all options. Fish sauce is an excellent addition to soups, stews, and curries.
Dressings for salads.
Sauce for pasta.
Bloody Mary with a savory twist.
Burgers or meat loaf are also options.
Potato mash.

Is hoisin sauce the same as oyster sauce?

Hoisin sauce has a thick viscosity and a sweet and deep umami taste. Its hue is reddish-brown and somewhat lighter than oyster sauce. Hoisin sauce is completely vegetarian and vegan. Oyster sauce, on the other hand, is a salty condiment prepared from oyster extract.

What is the ratio of fish sauce to oyster sauce?

While oyster sauce may be substituted for fish sauce in a 1:1 ratio, there are a few factors to bear in mind. Because oyster sauce is thicker than fish sauce, you may need to dilute it with a little water. Oyster sauce is often sweetened with sugar, making it sweeter than fish sauce.

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