When you are seeking for a salty sauce for your dishes, most probably you are looking for either oyster sauce or fish sauce. A lot of people have faced the same question as you do right now: Are oyster sauce and fish sauce interchangeable?
Well, needless to say, oyster sauce and fish sauce are two different entities. The names already suggest that they are derived from different ingredients. However, some of us may already know that both of them are typically salty in taste. Since oyster and fish are both largely used in various cuisines, especially the Asian ones, what are the differences between them? When should we use either of them?
Oyster sauce is usually a viscous dark brown condiment made by cooking oysters and mixed with sugar, salt, water, and cornstarch as the thickening agent. Oyster sauce is common in Cantonese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Khmer cuisines. The unique property of oyster sauce is that it tastes sweet and salty. Oyster sauce can last up to six months since the opening if kept in a refrigerator.
Fish sauce is amber-colored, extracted from the fermentation of fishes with sea salt. It is a staple ingredient in the cultures of Southeast Asia and East Asia, and also widely used in ancient European cuisines as well. Fish sauce can be added to the dish during cooking, as a base for a dipping condiment, or used in soups and casseroles. Distinctively, fish sauce tastes fishy and salty. Fish sauce can stay good for almost a year if kept in a refrigerator and stored in an air-tight container.
Oyster Sauce vs Fish Sauce
|Oyster Sauce||Fish Sauce|
|- Has a thick texture and a dark brown color||- Has a thin texture and a reddish brown, amber color|
|- Tastes sweet and salty, with a milder aroma||- Tastes fishy and saltier, with a more prominent aroma|
|- Used in Cantonese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Khmer cuisines, and is especially irreplaceable in some Chinese dishes||- Used in Southeast Asia and East Asia cuisines, as a base for a dipping condiment, and in soups and casseroles|
|- Can last up to six months||- Can last for almost a year|
As you can see, oyster sauce and fish sauce have different properties and are used for different purposes. Oyster sauce is thicker and has a sweet taste, used especially in Chinese dishes, whereas fish sauce is thinner, saltier, and used in more cuisines.