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Jan 16, 2007 02:44 PM

Oyster Sauce vs. Fish Sauce

What's the difference? I always thought they were the same? No? Yes?

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  1. No. not the same. Oyster sauce is much sweeter. Fish sauce isn't sweet, just salty. Both high sodium, I prefer the flavor of Oyster Sauce.

    1. Oyster sauce is a thick, viscous sauce made from oysters. Fish sauce is a watery sauce made from anchovies.

      Oyster sauce is a staple in the Chinese kitchen, while fish sauce is a staple in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.

      7 Replies
      1. re: FlavoursGal

        Ditto. Oyster sauce is the color of soy sauce, but thick like ketchup.

        Fish sauce is clear and amber, kind of like apple cider vinegar.

        1. re: Pei

          Thanx for clearing that up for me everybody!!

          1. re: crn

            In case you really wanted to know:

            If you've even been traveling in southeast asia, you'll never forget the smell of fish sauce factories...


            1. re: Cereal Killer

              Or if the bottle you open happens to leak and gets all over everything (as it did last night).

              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                I can only hope you were in a kitchen and not an airport / train station / bus station!


                1. re: Cereal Killer

                  Just my kitchen, but that was bad enough! :b

                  At least the resulting dish (pad si yew) was tasty!

          2. re: Pei

            Other than some Vietnamese fish sauces that are cloudy, thicker, smellier.

        2. My close friend is Vietnamese. I thought fish sauce was made by boiling the leftover fish parts and reducing it. I'll ask her. Either way, it smells SOOOO gross but gives the food that little "extra."

          1 Reply
          1. re: amyvc

            Roughly, they ferment the fish and then squeeze the liquids out of it in some sort of press.

          2. My understanding is that Fish Sauce is more of a flavor enhancer - something that adds depth to a dish - rather than something to be had alone. I suspect that Worcestershire Sauce (and the fermented anchovies that go into it) works in the same way.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yumbofoodie

              I agree. It's that secret ingredient that makes the dish "wow"

            2. A long time ago, a Filipino friend introduced me to fish sauce... there are many types. Here's a link to the wiki article:

              When I tried the sauce for the first time, my good friend began telling me about history of its production. I'm so glad that didn't scare me away; she painted a vivid picture of its production before machine presses were invented -- the old fashioned human stomping with bare feet.