Oyster Sauce: Unlock the Chinese Secrete

Oyster Sauce: Unlock the Chinese Secrete

Ever notice how a sauce, once tagged with some foreign-syllable and foreign calligraphy, suddenly feels like uncharted territory? It's as if it's some exclusive club you need a password to enter. Let's debunk that myth! A sauce is still a sauce, no matter the label, it's usually made with ingredients we're already familiar with. Let's take these 'exotic' condiments off their pedestals and mix them into our favourite go-to recipes. It's time to make home cooking fun and satisfying!

The first one I want to talk about? From my own culture,


the oyster sauce.


If you've developed a taste for the deep umami notes found in Asian favorites like miso, seaweed snacks, and kimchi, then oyster sauce is likely to resonate with your palate. It offers a rich, savory depth that complements and enhances a wide range of dishes, much like these other beloved ingredients.

What is it?

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown, savory condiment made by condensing oyster juices mixed with salt, sugar, and occasionally soy sauce.

Taste Profile:

Imagine the umami-rich nature of soy sauce combined with the deep, caramelized sweetness of a balsamic reduction, but with a flavor that's uniquely its own. Even it's called oyster sauce, but it pretty much taste nothing like oyster nor seafood...I wish...I love oyster.

Why use it?

  • Lack of Depth in Dishes:
Because, my stir-fry taste like a bowl of sad styrofoam?"
Solution: Let oyster sauce add some umami life and bring those styrofoam back to life.
  • Need for a Versatile Seasoning:
Because: Everything I cook just taste like salt..."
Solution: Oyster sauce is that awesome cousin of soy sauce that you always hear about and finally meet!

    How to Use:

    1. Stir-Fries: A classic application. A dash can enrich the flavors of meats and veggies.
    2. Marinades: Mix with garlic, ginger, and a touch of sesame oil to marinate meats.
    3. Glazing: Brush onto grilled meats or roasted vegetables for a glossy, flavorful finish.
    4. Dressings and Sauces: Add a splash to vinaigrettes or gravies for extra depth.

    Comparisons and Differences:

    • Soy Sauce: Both have a savory umami flavor, but soy sauce is saltier and lacks the sweet undertones  complexity of oyster sauce.
    • Worcestershire Sauce: Both can add depth to dishes, but Worcestershire has a tangier, slightly spicier profile, while oyster sauce leans towards sweet and savory.
    • Balsamic Reduction: The consistency and sweetness can be similar, but balsamic reduction lacks the savory depth of oyster sauce.

    Little note:
    When first experimenting, use oyster sauce sparingly. It's potent, and a little goes a long way. Start with a teaspoon or two, taste, and adjust. Over time, you'll find the right balance for your palate.


    Stuff Roast Chicken with Oyster Sauce

    This recipe from Gordon is wonderful – it's both simple and packed with flavor. For my own twist, I introduce a teaspoon of oyster sauce into the pan towards the end when cooking the stuffing. Chorizo inherently has a rich and salty profile. Adding just a smidgen of oyster sauce contributes an extra layer of savory depth. Additionally, when rubbing the chicken with oil, and oyster sauce all over the chicken, ensuring a richly flavored exterior. I'm a huge fan of chicken skin, so for me, this step is indispensable.


    • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
    • 1 chorizo, diced
    • half white onion, diced
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced (for stuffing)
    • cannellini bean
    • half dry tomato
    • fresh thyme
    • 1 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 2 tbsp oyster sauce, or enough to coat the entire chicken
    • 400ml white wine
    • 400ml water
    • Salt & pepper


    1. Preparation:

      • Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
      • Prepare all your ingredients for easy access.
    2. Cooking the Stuffing:

      • Over medium-high heat, heat up a pan and cook the diced chorizo until it releases its oil.
      • If needed, add a little cooking oil to moisten.
      • Add the diced onion to the pan and sauté with the chorizo for about 1 minute.
      • Incorporate the sliced garlic and thyme, continuing to cook for another minute.
      • Stir in the half-dried tomatoes and 1 tsp of oyster sauce, then set the pan aside.
    3. Preparing the Chicken:

      • Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
      • Fill the chicken with the chorizo stuffing and seal the cavity with a lemon.
      • If using additional oyster sauce, rub it onto the chicken first, then coat the chicken with oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of paprika.
    4. Roasting:

      • In your roasting pan, mix together the water and wine. Place the chicken and a sprig of thyme in the pan.
      • Cover the chicken with foil to allow it to steam.
      • Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 1 hour.
      • Afterward, remove the foil and roast for an additional 30 minutes to crisp up the chicken's skin.
    5. Finishing Touches:

      • Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven.
      • Squeeze the juice from the cooked lemon into the wine mixture in the roasting pan. Mix well and then strain.
      • Remove the stuffing from the chicken and drizzle with the wine and lemon mixture.
    6. Serving:

      • Present the chicken on a platter, ready to be carved and served. Enjoy!


        Meatballs with Oyster Sauce

        • 1 lb ground beef
        • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
        • 1 egg, beaten
        • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
        • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
        • Salt & pepper
        1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
        2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until well mixed.
        3. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
        4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.


        Root Vegetables with Oyster Sauce Drizzle


        • 4 cups mixed root vegetables (e.g., carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
        • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
        • Salt & pepper


        1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
        2. Toss the root vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer.
        3. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway, until vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized.
        4. In a small bowl, mix oyster sauce with honey or maple syrup. Drizzle over the roasted vegetables before serving.


        Baked Salmon with Oyster Sauce Glaze


        • 4 salmon fillets
        • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
        • 1 tablespoon olive oil
        • Salt & pepper
        • Lemon wedges for serving


        1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
        2. Mix oyster sauce and olive oil in a bowl.
        3. Place salmon fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the oyster sauce mixture over the salmon.
        4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with a fork.
        5. Serve with lemon wedges.


        Garlic & Oyster Sauce Potatoes


        • 4 large potatoes, sliced or cubed
        • 1/4 cup olive oil
        • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
        • 3 garlic cloves, minced
        • Salt & pepper


        1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
        2. In a large bowl, mix olive oil, oyster sauce, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss the potatoes in this mixture.
        3. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
        4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway, until potatoes are golden and tender.
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