What they are
As their names suggest, oyster sauce is made from oysters, and fish sauce is made from fish. Oyster fish is made from oysters and fish sauce is made from anchovies.
Oyster fish has been explained to have been made by mistake. Someone was cooking oysters and left them cooking without knowing that the whole of it had changed into a viscous sauce. Nevertheless, it was tasty and a discovery of a delicious sauce came to be through an accident.
Just like the common additive in both of them, the way they are constituted is different. The two of them are of different colors, consistency, and taste.
Oyster sauce is a combination of browned oyster juices, sodium chloride, sweetener, and soy sauce that is condensed with corn starch. When making the sauce, the oysters are boiled in water on low heat, until the juices diminish to make a thick sauce.
An oyster extract is then added to enhance the taste. On the other hand, fish sauce is constituted with two additives which include a frothed fish and sodium chloride. Anchovies are commonly used to make this sauce although other species of fish can be used to make it.
The fish is fermented in a short time to make a sauce that has a fishy taste. If you prolong the period of frothing, the sauce will have a rich, nutty taste.
The more the frothing time, the lesser is the fish odor. The frothing period is between one year to eighteen months. This additive makes the sauces different in their taste, flavor, and smell. Unlike soy sauce, fish sauce is a very salty, reddish-brown sauce that is commonly used as a seasoning.
It has a powerful fish taste and juicy, clear texture. Nevertheless, oyster sauce is much sturdy, misty, and much sweeter, with a fine salty taste.
Uses of oyster sauce and fish sauce
These two sauces have different uses in enabling your taste buds. Oyster sauce is a viand in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Khmer cookery.
It is mainly utilized to supplement the taste of meat and seafood-based cuisine. In addition, it adds intricacy and depth to noodle stir-fries. Moreover, in Southeast Asian cuisines, fish sauce can be generally found in savory Mediterranean food. It is commonly used to flavor soups, as part of a dunking sauce or in steep.
Oyster sauce is mainly used in stir-fries such as Beef Stir-Fry together with Bell Peppers and Black Pepper Sauce. It is also a common ingredient in Kung Pao Shrimp, Spicy Sichuan Noodles, and other Asian-style dishes. The sauce that is in a bottle is also referred to as oyster-flavored sauce.
It is constituted from a reduction of boiled oysters. Oyster sauce can also be used as a seasoning. It can be sprinkled over vegetables such as the Chinese broccoli or Bok choy once the dish is finished or when it comes off a dim sum cart.
Consequently, fish sauce is used as a salty, savory additive to add umami to many popular dishes, like Pad Thai among others.
During the cooking process, fish sauce can be used as a seasoning for soups and noodles. When it is utilized as a seasoning, it is mostly mixed with chili peppers and lime juice to reduce its strong fishy taste.
It can also be utilized in marinating meats, dressing vegetables, or punching up the flavor in soups and stews. It can act as a base for salad dressings and homemade ingredients.
Substituting oyster sauce and fish sauce
Oyster sauce can be used in place of fish sauce but the fish sauce cannot be used in place of oyster sauce. This is because the fish sauce has a unique flavor that is not advisable to change as it will change the taste of your food.
Its tastes and smells are unique in comparison with other sauces. The best substitute for fish sauce is the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce whether light or dark together with minced anchovies.
Light soy sauce that has a splash of lime juice is also a perfect substitute. Additionally, the oyster sauce can be substituted with vegetarian oyster sauce which is at times marked as mushroom stir fry sauce, kecap manis and dark soy sauce, and brown sugar.
It has a quick substitute in soy source, sweet soy sauce, or hoisin sauce. Due to its combination with sugar, salt, and umami, it is the best sauce for stir fry. The thick, texture that is almost like syrup is good for coating the food and works well for marinades.
Color and consistency
Oyster sauce is brown while the fish sauce is red-brown or amber in color. Other fish sauces have ingredients such as condiments, ail, and green peppers. Oyster sauce is sturdy in steadiness while the fish sauce is aqua and plain.
Flavor and smell
Oyster sauce is sugary since it is made through decreasing oyster extracts with a salty taste. Nonetheless, fish sauce has a strong salty and nuttier flavor. It also has a fishy odor. If you want to neutralize the odor, you can mix it with a little amount of lime juice.
If you do not wish to use lime juice, you can use it in small amounts. In the comparison of the two types of sauces, the oyster sauce has a moderate smell. You can test oyster sauce directly out of the bottle.
Origin and use
Oysters are of Chinese inception. Fish sauce has been utilized in several regions, for some centuries. Sometimes the fish sauce is said to have begun in Asia or Europe, but the exact inception is still not known.
Oyster sauce is commonly utilized in Chinese cookery, more so in stir-fries. It is an essential seasoning for noodles. It is an additive that cannot be replaced in some Chinese cuisines.
Fish sauce is universally used in Cambodian, Thai, and Vietnamese cookery. It is mainly used in seasoning fish and meat, and as an additive in soups and casseroles. If added lime, sliced green chilies, and garlic, fish sauce can be used as a dressing.
A dessert spoon of oyster sauce has 15 grams aqua, 2 grams’ carbohydrate, and 0.3-grams of protein. It has a fattening value of 9kcal.
On the other hand, a dessert spoon of fish sauce has 13 grams of water, 0.9-gram protein, 0.7-gram carbs, and 6 amounts of calories. The salt content in fish sauce is about 1400 mg, while oyster sauce has only 500 mg. The two sources have low amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Fish sauce has to some degree higher amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate as well as some vitamins.
Where to buy oyster and fish sauces
Both of the sources can be bought from Asian stores that are available in your locations. Once you have opened them, refrigerate to maintain their taste and freshness.
After opening the oyster sauce, it is advisable to use them for not more than six months from the opening date to avoid getting stale. It is proven that fish sauces can stay for about a year from the date it was opened. They should be stored in an air-tight container to prevent airflow that could cause molds and spoil the sauce.
Best way to use fish sauce
Fish sauce can be used in various cuisines depending on your choice. You can add ragu, or any pasta sauces that are tomato, cream, or cheese-based to enjoy their mouth-watering flavor. Savory rice-based cuisines like fried rice, bibimbap, risotto, paella, congee, or biryani.
It will give your soups, stews, curries, and braises a taste that is so addictive that you will always be asking for more. It marinates your meat, seafood, and vegetables to enhance their cooking and flavor.
Tastes of oyster sauce and fish sauce
• Oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is a rich, syrup-like sauce that is used in Chinese cuisine. It is constituted from the oyster extract. Despite its name, it does not have a fishy-like taste whatsoever.
Rather, the oyster sauce has an earthy, slightly sweet, and salty taste.
• Fish sauce
Fish sauce has umami, the earthy, savory flavor taste that makes food like mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and soy sauce taste so good and mouthwatering. The flavor is enhanced by a salty, briny, caramel sweetness. The fish sauces are as the name suggests.
Most of its flavor is derived from fish. If one does not like the flavor of the fishy taste, it is more commonly going to be sensitive to the fish sauce taste.
Differences between fish sauce and oyster sauce
• Oyster sauce
There exist some differences between oyster sauce and fish sauce. Oyster sauce is thick in uniformity while on the contrary, fish sauce is watery and clear.
Since it is constituted by decreasing oyster extracts, oyster sauce is sugary, with a sodium flavor. It does not have any taste of seafood even if it is made from the famous shellfish
• Fish sauce
Fish sauce has a notable salty and nuttier taste. It smells just like fish as well. It is not even possible to drink it from the bottle.
You can measure drops of it in your pad Thai or roast chicken. Just put a little of it to have a nice taste since it has a very strong taste. Adding fish sauce to your dish adds sodium chloride to your dish, therefore you can cook your meal without adding any salt.
You can add lime juice in small amounts if using fish sauce as a dunking sauce, together with some peppers and garlic. This will help in covering up the strong fishy smell especially for those who do not prefer it.
How to make the oyster sauce and fish sauce
The process by which oyster fish is made is different from how fish sauce is made. Fish sauce is made by frothing fish with sodium chloride.
For every three pieces of fish, a single part of sodium chloride is added. They are kept in vats for many months and years. The frothing process commonly takes time ranging from several months to years.
This is to bring about a good sauce that has been made patiently. More frothing period gives the fish sauce a less fishy taste while few frothing makes it have a nuttier taste.
On the other hand, oyster sauce is made by cooking oysters for a long period in low heat. This allows it to release its juices. Further heating reduces the juice to make a thick sauce. Making oyster sauce is a lot of work and that’s why it is so tasty and good.
Oyster sauce and fish sauce stand out for their distinct taste. Each of them has a quite particular flavor and use. Using one instead of the other is not recommended as you will not get a perfect recipe.
The calory counts of the two sauces are different. A tablespoon of oyster sauce has more calories than that of fish sauce. Although the difference in calories is just by a small amount.
Fish sauce has six calories per tablespoon while oyster sauce has nine calories. Oyster sauce has a notable number of proteins, minerals, and lipids or cholesterol. It is rich in sodium.
The sodium is quite high that is estimated to be about 492 mg per tablespoon. Moreover, on the fish sauce, it is much higher and is estimated to be 1413 mg. Therefore, those who have hypertension can only have it in moderation to avoid blood pressure elevation.
Recommendations and shelf life
It is advisable to have the two sauces in your fridge since they bring a unique taste to your table. This is if you do not want to mess up with your tasty dishes.
Once the bottles of the two sauces are opened, fish sauce can last long while oyster sauce lifespan is shorter. In addition, oyster sauce requires usage within six months after opening. Fish sauce can take a longer period before it goes stale.