So you have a recipe and it calls for Oyster Sauce, but you don’t have Oyster Sauce. What can you do? In this article, you will find some simple substitutions for Oyster Sauce.
What you use to substitute for Oyster Sauce depends on flavor. If you want to match the saltiness and sweetness of Oyster Sauce, there is no better substitute than Hoisin Sauce. If Hoisin is not available you can also use Stir Fry Sauce, which often has Oyster Sauce in it. You can use Teriyaki Sauce or Mushroom Stir Fry Sauce. Other options are Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce and Miso Paste. These three options focus on matching the saltiness. Soy and Fish Sauces are thinner than Oyster Sauce. Miso Paste on the other hand is thicker. Sesame Oil can be used for a good Stir Fry but has none of the flavors of Oyster Sauce. Lastly, Worcestershire has a unique flavor that would work for European dishes but would not work for Asian dishes.
Read on to learn more about these different substitutes.
What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like
The flavor of Oyster Sauce is sometimes hard to describe. It has a unique umami that can only be replicated by mixing flavors.
Flavor: Oyster Sauce has an umami flavor created by the fermenting of oysters. This saltiness is created in much the same way as it is in Fish Sauce and Soy Sauce. Unlike Fish Sauce and Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce is sweet. The sweetness comes from the cooking of the oysters.
Texture: Oyster Sauce is thick like Barbecue Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, or Hoisin Sauce.
Oyster Sauce is often paired with other ingredients in popular Stir Fry Sauces.
Oyster Sauce Substitutes
There are a number of good Oyster Sauce Substitutions. When making your decision, consider the desired flavor of the dish as well as the thickness of any sauce.
Soy Sauce mimics the saltiness of Oyster Sauce. However, it is much thinner and does not have the sweetness associated with Oyster Sauce.
A few options to improve Soy Sauce as a substitute include mixing it with Hoisin Sauce. equal amounts of Soy and Hoisin. For example, 1 tablespoon of Soy and 1 tablespoon of Hoisin for 2 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce.
Another option is to mix in ½ tsp of sugar and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce in the Soy sauce.
Coconut Aminos, a common Soy Sauce substitute, is also a good substitute. While it is not as thick as Oyster Sauce it matches the sweetness. To match the saltiness and the sweetness mix Soy Sauce with Coconut Aminos.
Finally, there is a Sweet Soy Sauce, known as Kecap Manis, from Indonesia. When substituting this for Oyster Sauce start by using half the amount, add more as necessary.
Fish Sauce mimics the fishiness of Oyster Sauce. It is much thinner than Oyster Sauce. As with Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce can be mixed with Hoisin Sauce to increase thickness.
With Fish Sauce it is best to use half as much as the recipe calls for. So, if a recipe calls for 4 tbsp of Oyster Sauce you should start with 2 tbsp of Fish Sauce. You can always add more later if you need to.
Fish Sauce is very salty. In order to increase sweetness, you can add a pinch or two of sugar. Other options include half Fish Sauce and Half Coconut Aminos and mixing 1 tbsp Fish Sauce with 1-2 tbsp of Teriyaki sauce.
Hoisin Sauce is the best substitute for Oyster Sauce. Hoisin sauce is more salty than sweet. This makes it a good flavor substitute for Oyster Sauce. It has a similar thickness to Oyster sauce and makes a good substitution in terms of texture.
Hoisin Sauce is also a good substitute for those who do not eat seafood. It is vegan and Vegetarian.
Depending on your recipe, you may wish to add more soy sauce to your Hoisin sauce to increase the saltiness. Or you may wish to increase the sweetness by adding some Coconut aminos or a pinch of sugar.
Worcestershire Sauce can be used as a substitute for Oyster Sauce. One thing to keep in mind, while they have a similar umami Worcestershire Sauce has a more acidic flavor.
Worcestershire Sauce is best paired with another sauce to weaken the sharpness of the acidity.
In addition, Worcestershire Sauce is much thinner than Oyster Sauce. To thicken it, consider mixing it with Hoisin or one of the Stir Fry Sauces.
Due to their distinct flavors Worcestershire Sauce can be substituted for Oyster Sauce in more European dishes. However, in Asian dishes Worcestershire Sauce is best avoided as it can overpower the other flavors.
Miso Paste is, as the name implies, a paste. It is much thicker than Oyster Sauce. As it is made from the same essential ingredients as Soy Sauce it can be used as a substitute for Oyster Sauce.
The best way to substitute Miso Paste for Oyster Sauce is to mix it with a sweeter sauce. Since Miso Paste is so thick, I recommend using Coconut Aminos which is thinner than Teriyaki Sauce. However, if you do not have, or cannot find, Coconut Aminos you can mix Miso Paste with Fish Sauce for thinning and a bit of sugar for sweetening.
Sesame Oil is often used in Asian cooking. While it cannot mimic the texture or flavor of Oyster Sauce. If nothing else is available Sesame Oil makes a good and recognizably Asian flavored Stir Fry.
Some ways to improve a Stir Fry using Sesame Oil are mixing it with Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, or a little bit of Miso Paste. These will add a bit of the saltiness of Oyster Sauce.
Sesame Oil can also be paired with Coconut Aminos or Teriyaki Sauce for a sweeter Stir Fry Sauce.
Stir Fry Sauces
One Stir Fry Sauce option is Teriyaki Sauce. Teriyaki sauce is much sweeter than Oyster Sauce. To increase the saltiness of the Teriyaki Sauce, add Soy Sauce. For 3 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce, use 1 tbsp of Soy Sauce and 2 tbsp of Teriyaki Sauce. If you want a saltier sauce switch the amounts to 1 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce and 2 tbsp Soy Sauce. Another option is to mix 1 tbsp Soy Sauce with 1 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce and 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce. The Fish Sauce adds the ocean, fishiness of Oyster Sauce.
Another option is Mushroom Stir Fry Sauce. This sauce mimics the saltiness of Oyster Sauce and often the sweetness. It has a more earthy flavor then Oyster Sauce. When Substituting Mushroom Stir Fry Sauce, use equal amounts to the Oyster Sauce.
Plain Stir Fry Sauce has Oyster Sauce in it. This makes it a good substitute for any stir fry recipes that call for Oyster Sauce.
How To Use Oyster Sauce and Oysters Sauce Substitutes
How you use Oyster Sauce, and its substitutions depends on the recipe you are making.
Stir Fries: In Stir Fries it is much easier to substitute Oyster Sauce. One reason is that you can taste the sauce and make personal decisions. If you like a sweeter sauce, consider using Teriyaki Sauce. If you like a saltier Sauce, consider using Hoisin Sauce. You can also use Stir Fry Sauces. In addition, you can use any of the thinner sauces and use less or mix them with a thicker sauce.
Fried Rice: In Fried Rice the thinner sauces are in fact better sauces. To make the most complete flavor match, mix Soy Sauce with Fish Sauce and Coconut Aminos. In Addition, Sesame Oil is very tasty with this meal.
Noodle Dishes: Noodle Dishes can go either way. You can use thinner sauce substitutes and use a little less or you can use the thicker ones. Once again, Sesame oil is a good addition.
So, there you have it. There are many sauces that can be used as a substitute for Oyster Sauce. Happy Cooking!