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Food 101

What Is Oyster Sauce? (Plus 10 Oyster Sauce Recipes to Try)

What is oyster sauce?

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown condiment made with sugar, salt, water, cornstarch, and oyster extract. Despite its name, oyster sauce isn’t extremely fishy in terms of flavor. Instead, it hits on sweet, salty, and earthy notes.

Traditional oyster sauce is made by reducing the opaque, white broth that’s produced when oysters are boiled in water into a thick, caramel-colored sauce and adding no additional ingredients. Since this type of oyster sauce is very expensive to produce, the bottled varieties you’ll find in grocery stores today have likely been thickened with cornstarch, flavored with oyster extract, and darkened with caramel coloring.

Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Cantonese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes and appears in many meat, vegetable, and stir-fry recipes, like the 10 we’ve rounded up below.


Oyster Sauce Recipes

  1. Sesame Chicken
    A restaurant specialty of crispy boneless chicken coated with a delicious sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds.

  2. Thai BBQ Spare Ribs 
    A super simple spare ribs recipe that pairs perfectly with sticky rice.

  3. Shrimp Cucumber Stir-Fry 
    Cucumbers aren’t just for salads. Cooked, the summery vegetable is naturally sweet and juicy—and delicious alongside shrimp.

  4. Pad See Ew 
    A popular Thai dish of flat rice noodles sautéed in soy sauce with Chinese broccoli.

  5. Ramen Noodles with Exotic Sauce 
    Boiled Ramen noodles served with a unique blend of oyster sauce, soy sauce, marmalade, cayenne pepper, sugar, and rice vinegar.

  1. Cashew Chicken
    Skip take-out and try making this classic dish at home.

  2. Wonton Noodle Soup 
    This quick and easy recipe strikes the perfect balance of chewy noodles, flavorful broth, and savory wontons.

  3. Thai Drunken Noodles 
    A popular Thai noodle dish that, contrary to its name, doesn’t contain a drop of alcohol. However, since it’s so spicy, Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) is best served alongside a cold beer.

  4. Laotian Fried Chicken Wing
    Try these delicious and juicy Asian chicken wings with sticky rice and papaya salad.

  5. Char Siu Pork 
    Sure, you can buy Char Siu sauce in the supermarket, but it tastes so much better made in your own kitchen.

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