Apr 17, 2014


Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cantonese cuisine. Almost as popular as ketchup is here in the U.S. Traditionally, oyster sauce was made by slowly simmering oysters in water until the juices caramelize into a thick, brown, intensely flavorful sauce, but it didn't have a fishy flavor. 

Lee Kum Kee brand
Premium Oyster Flavored Sauce
18 ounce bottle for $6.29
at Friendly Market on Moloka'i
Oyster sauces today are usually made with a base of sugar and salt and thickened with corn starch. Oyster extracts or essences are then used to give flavor to the base sauce. Other ingredients, such as soy sauce and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), may also be added to deepen the flavor and add color. MSG has been used for more than 100 years to season food. During this period, many studies have been conducted on the safety of MSG. At this point, international and national bodies for the safety of food additives consider MSG safe for human consumption as a flavor enhancer. If you are worried about MSG in oyster sauce, there are brands like Choy Sun Oyster Flavored Sauce and Panda Brand Green Label Oyster Flavored Sauce, made by Lee Kum Kee, that do not contain added MSG, however trace amounts of MSG are naturally found in the ingredients of oyster flavored sauces.

The quality of the oyster sauce will greatly affect the flavor. Lower quality and less expensive oyster sauce may use artificial oyster flavoring, while the best oyster sauce brands use only real oyster reductions for flavoring. There is a brand of oyster sauce that is a product of Thailand called "Dragonfly Super Premium" that is said to be the best because it is less salty, and has a more pronounced oyster flavor. It is made without preservatives or MSG. Dragonfly Super Premium is a best seller on Amazon.com, but they are sometimes sold out. Another Thai oyster sauce that has high marks is the Maekrua brand. It can also be purchased on Amazon along with many other brands. 
Remember, it's all a matter of personal preference.

Oyster sauce is a very important cooking ingredient here in Hawaii, probably because of the large Asian population that have settled here. I always have a bottle handy in my refrigerator. You can use oyster sauce for lots of things. For example this thick brown sauce can be used instead of or with soy sauce. It's great as a meat marinade, in stir-fries, on lo mein or chow mein, and to season rice in fried rice. Everyone loves chicken, but have you ever marinated chicken breast or legs with oyster sauce and then just grill or bake them in the oven. You can add garlic, honey, sake, red pepper flakes, or what ever you like to oyster sauce, I always use the recipe below "Thai BBQ Sauce" for my grilled pork ribs or chicken. It's also great on rice and oven roasted potatoes wedges.

There is a vegetarian version of oyster sauce that is sometimes called mushroom sauce, and is usually available in the same section of your grocery store. It is made using mushrooms to provide the deep, earthy flavor
. Mushrooms, especially the oyster mushroom, have a high level of umami flavor, similar to that of real oysters.

With the increasing popularity of Asian cuisine in the United States, oyster sauce can be found in most major grocery stores, in the international aisle, with the other Asian sauces and condiments. After opening, oyster sauce should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container. When stored properly, oyster sauce should stay good for three to six months.

Oyster Sauce Recipes:

Poached Eggs with Oyster Sauce
4 eggs
4 slices wheat bread
20 fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
3 to 4 teaspoons oyster sauce at room temperature
4 dashes of cayenne pepper or paprika
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Half fill a fry pan with water and place over medium heat until just simmering. Crack one egg at a time onto a plate and slide off the plate into the water. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until done to your liking. Carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile toast the bread until golden and top each slice with five spinach leaves and one poached egg, and then drizzle the eggs with the oyster sauce and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and spring onions. Makes 4 servings.

Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Ingredients for dressing:
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for salad:
1 pound sugar snap pea, trimmed
1/2 cup carrot (julienne cut)
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (drained and sliced)
1/2 cup red bell pepper (julienne cut)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

To prepare dressing, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 1 minute. Stir in oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and salt, bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; cool.

To prepare salad, cook peas in boiling water 30 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine peas and remaining ingredients except sesame seeds. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 4-6 servings.

Crispy Shrimp Egg Rolls
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 shrimp, peeled, cooked and chopped
4 scallions, chopped fine
1 cup Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
1 carrot, shredded
8 water chestnuts, cut into small, thin strips
2 stalks celery, minced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 -2 tablespoon soy sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
6 egg roll wraps
1 egg, beaten
canola oil, for deep frying

First heat your 2 tablespoons of oil in either a wok or is a deeper skillet, and stir fry your shrimp, cabbage, carrots, water chestnuts, and celery for 3-4 minutes. Then put into the pan the bean sprouts, scallions, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and stir thoroughly.

Place 3-4 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture into a egg roll wrapper, lengthwise in a thin line down the longer side of the wrapper nearest to you. Fold the two shorter sides of the wrapper in completely over the mixture. Then start rolling it tightly to make a cylinder. Brush the closing edge of the wrapper with beaten egg. Make sure that when you come to the end of the last edge, that it is sealed tightly. Cover rolls with a damp towel while you finish rolling all of them.

Heat oil in your deep pan to 375˚F. I usually use about 1 inch of oil in my pan. Fry egg rolls, a few at a time, until skins are crisp and golden brown, turning them as they brown. Drain egg rolls on paper towels to get rid of excess oil and serve them at once with a dipping sauce. Makes 6 egg rolls.

Thai Beef with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound boneless beef roast, thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
1/4 pound broccoli floret, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup water

Heat oil in deep, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat; add garlic and cook until a bit of garlic sizzles at once. Toss well. Add beef and toss until it changes color. Add broccoli florets and toss for about 1 min., until they turn shiny and bright green. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and water and cook 3-4 min., tossing often, until broccoli is tender and beef is cooked. Transfer to small serving platter and serve hot or warm. Makes 4 servings.

Steak with Oyster Sauce
4 (12 ounce) New York strip steaks
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Press the black pepper into the top of each steak. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet. Cook the steaks over high heat on each side until lightly caramelized. Remove the steaks and keep warm.

Add the oyster sauce to the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, cut into small pieces. The sauce will get creamy. Slice the steaks thickly on the bias, or leave whole. Pour the sauce over the top. Makes 4 servings.

Sweet and Savory Roast Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for sauce:
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or enough as needed) (optional)

Pat the pork dry and arrange in a shallow baking dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a bowl, and pour over pork. Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 8 hours, but 24 is better. Turn at least twice during this time.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove pork, placing in a clean shallow baking dish sprayed with non-stick oil. Reserve marinade if you wish to make a sauce with it. Bake about 45 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 155˚F. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes and slice thinly.

For sauce: Strain reserved marinade into a sauce pan. Add chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook down to about half original quantity. Add cornstarch as needed to thicken. Makes 6 servings.

Oyster Sauce Baked Chicken
8 chicken thighs
onion powder
1(10 ounce) bottle oyster sauce
3 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup white sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400°F (oven rack set to lowest position). Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season both sides of each piece of chicken with a small amount of onion powder, then pace the chicken into the baking dish facing skin side up. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile in a bowl combine the oyster sauce with garlic, 1/2 cup sugar and water (taste the sauce and if it is not sweet enough for your taste then add in more sugar until you have achieved your desired sweetness taste). After the chicken has cooked for 25 minutes remove from oven and spoon off any fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the dish. Pour the oyster sauce over the chicken and turn the chicken to coat with the sauce (the chicken should remain skin-side facing up). Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with rice and snow peas. Makes 4 servings.

Lemongrass Chicken with Turmeric Rice
Ingredients for lemongrass chicken:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
5 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
2 tablespoons palm sugar, divided
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 or 3 fresh lemongrass stalks
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3-pound chicken, quartered
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Ingredients for turmeric rice:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, well rinsed
2 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Bruise the lemongrass by hitting it with the back edge of a chef's knife several times (this releases flavor). Clean the lemongrass stalks by removing the outer layers, then remove about 1/2" from the tip, and cut up 4" from there. Discard the rest. If the lemongrass is thin you can use three of these 4" pieces, otherwise use two pieces. Slice the lemongrass into thin slices (circles). Whisk 1/4 cup oil, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon palm sugar, and next 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature 1 hour.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch overproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet (reserve marinade in bowl). Cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken, add reserved marinade to skillet, and transfer to oven. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175˚F, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.

Add 1/2 cup water, lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon palm sugar to skillet. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, spoon fat from surface, and strain pan juices into small pitcher. Serve chicken with pan juices.

For the rice: heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic; saute until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add rice, broth, salt, and turmeric. Bring rice to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Serve rice garnished with sliced green onions. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Braised Chicken Gizzards 
in Oyster Sauce
1 pound chicken gizzard
1 cup chicken stock
2 scallions, 1 whole, 1 minced
1 slice ginger plus 1/2 tsp. ginger, minced
2 teaspoons oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Trim gizzards and cut in half. In a saucepan, combine gizzards with stock, whole scallion, and ginger slice. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until gizzards are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat. In a wok, heat oil until just smoking. Add minced scallion and minced ginger. Stir fry over high heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add oyster sauce, sugar, gizzards, and any stock remaining in pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until gizzards have absorbed flavor and sauce has reduced slightly, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve with rice and bok chou. Makes 4-6 servings

Thai Chicken Fried Rice
4 cups cooked cold jasmine rice (cold rice is essential so the grains will not stick together when stir frying)
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups boneless skinless chicken thighs sliced thin
2 eggs
4 green onions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons palm sugar (table sugar is fine if you can't find palm sugar)
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (no substitutes)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 cucumber, sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. While pan is warming, toss the cold rice with your hands, making sure to separate the grains from any clumps. Add the garlic to the heated wok, and toss until fragrant and slightly golden. Add chicken and stir fry for about 1 minute. Push the meat and garlic up the sides making a well in the middle and add eggs. Scramble eggs for 1 minute in middle of pan then, add green onions and peas and incorporate all ingredients together, stir frying for another minute. Add rice, turning over rice with pan ingredients several times to coat and stir frying for 2-3 minutes. You want the rice to begin to have a toasted smell, making sure that all the ingredients are constantly being moved around the pan for even cooking. If your pan seems to have cooled down to the point where the ingredients are no longer sizzling, you may need to turn the heat up slightly. Sprinkle in the sugar and add the fish sauce and oyster sauce. Stir fry all ingredients together for one minute more or until sauces are absorbed and mixture is completely combined. Transfer to serving platter. Garnish plate edge with sliced cucumber, lime wedges, and additional whole green onions if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Spam Fried Rice
Ingredients for fried rice:
4 1/2 cups dry rice, cooked and cooled (preferably day old)
6 -7 eggs, with a splash water, scrambled
1 (11 ounce) can spam lite, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
12 ounces frozen peas and carrots, thawed

Ingredients for sauce:
1 cup aloha shoyu soy sauce
4 -5 tablespoons sugar
4 -5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Scramble eggs in about 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok on medium high heat. When done, set aside in a bowl. Place another tablespoon of oil in wok and sauté onions and Spam on medium high heat. When golden & starting to crisp on the outsides add the thawed peas and carrots.

Combine ingredients for the sauce and stir until sugar is dissolved, tasting along the way to be sure it is sweet enough for you. Add to the vegetables and boil on high until the sauce reduces to a glaze. Slowly add the cooled rice and eggs to the vegetable mixture, being sure to break up any clumps of rice and so the coloring is even. Warm the rice through and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken Chow Mein
12 ounces chinese noodles (I use the fresh ones found in the produce department)
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 ounces ham, finely sliced
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
4 green onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

You'llwant to get your prep work done first, because this will cook up very quickly. Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water, and set aside. After you slice the chicken, place it in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Toss to coat.

Heat half the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, add the chicken mixture. Stir fry for 2 minutes, then transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Wipe the pan out and heat the remaining olive oil. Stir in the garlic, snow peas, and ham. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the drained noodles to the pan, and continue to stir fry till the noodles are heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining soy, the oyster sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. You may find you don't need salt. Add the chicken and any juices back to the pan, then add the green onions. Give a final stir and serve immediately. Makes 3-4 servings.

Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with
1 tablespoon chicken stock
1 bunch baby bok choy, bottoms trimmed but stalks left whole with some still 'stuck together, washed (about 3/4 lb.)

In a small saucepan, combine oyster sauce, stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sauce bubbles and thickens; remove from heat. Blanch bok choy in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes; remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a serving plate. Pour oyster sauce over it and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Long Beans with Oyster Sauce
3/4 pound long beans rinsed, ends removed and cut into 3 inch pieces
1 knob, peeled and grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon chili paste, or to taste
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil

Heat the oil in a wok or fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the grated ginger, garlic and chili paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Don't let the garlic burn. Add the cut long beans to the wok, turn up the heat to high and also add the oyster sauce. Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes until the beans are crisp-tender and slightly charred. deglaze the wok with a bit of water, then serve with rice. Makes 2 servings.

Curly Kale with Oyster Sauce
tablespoon canola oil
1-2 large garlic clove, sliced
7 ounces curly kale, rinsed with stems removed
3 fluid ounces boiling water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Now add the kale and toss around the pan to coat in the garlicky oil. Pour over boiling water and cook for 7 minutes more until the kale has just wilted and is cooked through. Stir in the soy and oyster sauces and heat and to serve. Makes 2-3 servings.

Thai BBQ Sauce
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon fish sauce or 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1-2 teaspoons chili sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until well blended.

Taste-test your bbq sauce, adding more honey if not sweet enough, or more lime juice if too sweet or too salty for your taste. Also add more chili if desired.

Use the sauce as a marinade for your meats, fish, or seafood, and brush it on while grilling. Great with steak, ribs, burgers, salmon, shrimp, and more!

Note: I like to double this recipe and then drizzle a little more over the entree before serving. This great sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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