Oyster Sauce
Liquid umami sweetness

Salty, sweet, deeply savory and luxuriously dark, oyster sauce is an umami bomb that delivers layers of complexity capable of transforming a dish with just a few spoonfuls.

An essential part of East Asian cuisine, this powerhouse pantry staple breathes life into stir-fries and cooked meats. It’s the flavor backbone to dishes such as kung pao shrimp and Thai cashew chicken.

Oyster sauce shares some of its flavor DNA with the likes of soy sauce and fish sauce. As fermented foods, all pack a complex, savory punch, but oyster sauce stands out for its balance of sweet and savory, thanks to the namesake bivalves from which this sauce is derived.

Traditionally, oyster sauce is made from—yes—boiled oysters, which infuse the cooking liquid with briny depth. The sauce is long-simmered until it reduces into a thick, brown condiment that is intensely savory without any robust “fishy” flavor.

Today, top-quality oyster sauce still is made from real oysters, though inferior versions sometimes rely on artificial flavors and colorings. When buying oyster sauce, it pays to read labels carefully—it should list oysters as a primary ingredient. Our favorite is Megachef Premium Oyster Sauce, made with oysters harvested off the Gulf of Thailand. It’s available from our store, at 177milkstreet.com/jf23-oyster.