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Recipe for Oyster Sauce [Moved from Manhattan board]

[Split from this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43539...


hey bigjeff - I was responding to E Eto's question about sauces .Anyway, there's nothing inherently 'offensive' about these commercial products - I just wish the chefs would not include soooo much of it in many Chinese dishes.

It's not so hard to make oyster sauce. Here's a recipe I found. Now which version do you think most Hounds would prefer? The following one or oyster sauce in a bottle?

Homemade Oyster Sauce
1/2 lb. shucked oysters with liquid
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp salt
light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
Drain oysters and reserve the liquid. Mince oysters and place in a saucepan. Add water and reserved liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt and cool completely.

Force the mixture through a fine sieve into sauce pan. Measure the liquid, adding 2 Tbsp. light soy sauce to each 1/2 cup. Add dark soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 7 minutes.

Cool to room temperature and pour into a sterilized jar. Seal and store in the refrigerator. This sauce can be kept for several weeks.

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  1. I guess you could make your own oyster sauce but then again you could make your own salt. I don't know any one who makes their own salt....

    1. wow, that is gangster. not that I'm gonna waste any oysters trying to make oyster sauce, but to the intrepid home cook, good luck! the closest I came to creating an "elemental" ingredient was making my own paneer for a saag paneer, but that was real easy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bigjeff

        I wasn't suggesting that we reinvent the wheel here by making our own Oriental sauces.. If you read the original thread which is linked above, I believe the oyster sauce recipe fits the topic. It just happened to be split in Home Cooking by itself.

        1. re: Beau711

          Chinese people do not make their own oyster sauce (or many of the other sauces mentioned in the original thread) because it is a condiment. Making homemade oyster sauce is compatible to making homemade mustard or Balsamic vinegar.

      2. I think it is a cool idea. Does it taste markedly different from store bought?

        1. I might be imagining this but doesn't the process traditionally involve some sort of fermentation? I'm really talking off the top of my head but I hafta say, this kinda sounds like one of those American cookbook "substitutes" that used to be so common, for those who do (or more commonly used to) live in places where they can't get any, or at least not a good quality commercial product. Or a substitute originated by natives who couldn't get it either, for that matter. A suspicion heightened by the soy sauce ingredients, which I don't think I remember seeing on a label - mostly just the infamous "oyster extractives", water and salt, at least among the more expensive brands. FWIW, I think the "extractives" business is more a translation issue than a sign of low quality, fish sauce says that too, maybe becaue the final product specifically does not contain the entire original ingredient, just the stuff that oozes out as it ferments. (Ie, with similar labelling, whiskey could be said to be made with "grain extractives" because the liquid "product" is drained off the dregs of what used to be whole grain before further processing.)

          I don't think you can get the same quality in little batches at home, any more than imagine you could make good fish sauce in by tossing a pound of commercially bought anchovies into a Mason jar on top of the hot water heater. Some things are better for it, but I think not oyster sauce... On the other hand, some people get off on eating mediocre homemade versions of things that are better made by professionals -- "it tastes awful but it's mine and I love it" -- so who am I to argue? (g,d&r)

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeG

            agreed. for me, oyster sauce from the tall container (don't keep it in the fridge or it takes forever to come out) is exactly what it is, whether used as a straight dipping sauce, drizzled over blanched greens, or as an ingredient in a recipe. but yes, it would be cool to make it, but I share your suspicion somehow; I once read a recipe for kimchi which involved dousing cabbage with sriracha and sticking it in the fridge, tada, for instance kimchi.

            1. re: MikeG

              Hey Mike -

              Near as I can tell from Wikipedia, Oyster Sauce was invented in Guangdong province by a guy named Lee Kam Sheung, and he invented it by accident. He burned an oyster soup, caught it before it turned to carbon but after it had caramelized and thought it tasted good enough to try out on his friends. The rest is history.

              If you buy this story (which I think sounds plausible), the recipe for Oyster Sauce ought to look a lot like a traditional Chinese oyster soup. For example: http://homechineserecipes.com/soup/oy...

              I'd try making the soup and then reducing it to a caramel. I'll bet you get something a lot like Oyster sauce.

              If anyone's tried this I'd love to hear about it.

            2. I would normally agree with these comments posted, however I've read recently that the sea in China, where oysters are normally harvested, is polluted. We've now boycotted all seafood products produced in China. But so many of my favorite recipes call for oyster sauce, so I was looking for a way to make my own, using locally harvested oysters. Thanks for the recipe, I'll post comments on the results!

              1 Reply
              1. re: dcownden

                it is so sad but true; ath the asian markets, my parents stopped buying all dried, packaged and prepared products that are made in china because of those sorts of reasons and they only get stuff made in taiwan; unfortunately, the prices are always always cheaper on the mainland products; if a package of dried seaweed was $3.99, the one that was made in china would be $1.99 or something like that. but it's totally made me wary, which sucks.

              2. 99% of the oyster sauce sold and used in restaurants is "oyster flavored" sauce (the kind you get for $1-$4/bottle).

                Look for the "premium" oyster sauce and its made with real oysters, they'll usually run $5 and up per bottle. There's a big difference in taste over the "oyster flavored" sauce.

                4 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  I can't live without oyster sauce... Growing up, my family probably ate dishes with oyster sauce at least every other day.

                  I have both, my mom, and grandma taught me to have both on hand. You use the oyster flavored sauce for dishes where its just there as an accent such as chow mein or stir fries. When I'm making a vegetable dish and am using this as amain part of my dish, I use the premium stuff.

                  I do not know anyone who makes oyster sauce. when I asked my mom if she knew she thought I was joking and called me crazy

                  1. re: mabziegurl

                    I agree with mabziegurl. I can't live without oyster sauce either! It's a chinese staple in the kitchen. I even use it on my scrambled eggs. Why bother to make it, when Lee Kum Kee makes it so well and inexpensively? They make both premium and panda brand which is the oyster flavored sauce. It's like trying to make soy sauce! CHEE SEEN!!! Cantonese for CRAZY!! lol

                    1. re: jade628

                      It is not crazy. I love Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce. I grew up with it. But I got to this thread because I Googled "making my own oyster sauce". It is not for saving money but the act of cooking exploration. My kids and I love making ice scream, we bake our own bread, make our own pizzas (and sauce. OK, we don't make our own cheeze). But I was wondering whether I could make a better oyster sauce than LKK. I bought the premium sauce and it was way too salty. I wanted a sauce without MSG but full of umami. Anything could be improved and we can have fun while trying. The idea came after grilling giant pacific oysters from the West Coast. Hmmm.

                      Another incentive is to get rid of the caramel coloring used by LKK. I read that caramel coloring made with ammonia is rather bad for you. I'd rather have control over what goes into my food.

                      1. re: Brian Kwok

                        Okay, Brian, You are right. I am a great cook too. But too lazy to make my own sauce. It's a lot of work. If you manage to recreate it, please share the recipe with me. I'd love to make it without the msg and caramel color. I actually found an oyster sauce made without msg and sugar last year. I don't remember the brand offhand. But it had a lady and I think people on the boat. lol

                2. so there was a container of oysters on sale and I made this recipe. Not bad! Although I didn't half that much liquid so I added tamari - (not quite as salty as light soy sauce) - definitely add less to start with and then more if you want it saltier, since this gets reduced twice. It has a nice brininess/fishiness. My mom said it reminds her of a very fish condiment they eat in vietnam, which they dip apples and mangoes in, mam tom (shrimp) or mam xo (oyster), and serve as a sauce with bun rieu. I added a little hoisin (for that characteristic sweetness), chicken broth instead of water, and a 1/2 tsp or so of mirin, since I read this is usually present in some soy sauces, as part of the fermentation process. pretty, pretty good. thanks beau711

                  1. I love it! Thanks for giving the guidance to make our own Oyster sauce using even real Oysters.

                    Why make oyster sauce? Soy, according to the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, has been pushed on us all in every form, and it is not a good healthy food. I have eliminated soy from my diet, and now that I have a recipe to make oyster sauce, I can also avoid the generic "modified food starch" which we have no idea whether it is wheat starch or not. Then there's also controlling for sugar and msg. I will be giving this a try with some Oysters in the fridge. Thanks again!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nomadannie

                      Re modified food starch: if a product is made in the USA it must be cornstarch. If the product comes from China or Europe it can be made from wheat or corn. That is now you know what it is.

                      1. I make my own oyster sauce because I'm allergic to wheat. Most bottled oyster sauces are not gluten free. Those of you bitching that it's as bizarre as making your own balsamic need to think outside the box.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: noguri

                          Hi noguri. Have you tried the Panda brand of oyster sauce? It's from Lee Kum Kee, a major brand of Chinese condiments. But this one is supposed to be gluten free. http://www.amazon.com/Panda-Brand-Gre... . I've found this at my local 99 Ranch store in the SF bay area.