Asian food has its unique offerings. It is unlike any other culinary feature. When you think of food that comes from the far east, only a few ingredients can stake the claim of being a staple than oyster sauce. So, when you’ve had your fair share of Asian cuisine, then it is likely that you’ve tried the oyster sauce, too.
But unlike other traditional ingredients in Asian cuisine, oyster sauce found its way to the west. You can buy the product in your local grocery store because it is readily available.
What Makes Oyster Sauce Stand Out?
For one, it’s the aroma. No other condiment offers the ideal blend of sweetness, saltiness, and earthiness in one thick brown sauce. While most people associate it with stir fry, it is versatile enough to add flavor to just about anything.
Health Benefits and Nutritional Value
The Chinese were the first to introduce oyster sauce, and it did not take long for other culinary cultures to embrace it. The dark and thick sauce is a staple for many meat and vegetable recipes. Arguably its most distinctive characteristic is the ability to enhance the flavor of the dish. According to Livestrong, the oyster sauce has its share of good stuff, too.
A tablespoon of oyster sauce contains 0.20 grams of protein. Although it does not provide enough for an individual’s recommended protein intake, the truth is that it helps enhance the flavor and taste of alternative protein sources like that of fish and tofu. Cooking with oyster sauce means that you are motivated to consume healthier options to get your protein.
Know that a tablespoon of oyster sauce contains a measly 9 calories. Since it does not have cholesterol and minimal amounts of fat, it means that you won’t have any issues with it if you are trying to lose weight.
More importantly, the oyster sauce contains traces of vitamins and minerals, although you don’t intend to make it as your primary source. Adding it to your dish will not only enhance its flavor, but you’re also getting something healthy in return.
The bottom line is that oyster sauce offers more than what you probably initially expected. It is primarily known for improving the culinary experience since the taste of any dish you put it in will substantially improve.
But mind you, not all oyster sauce brands offer the high-quality taste you’re expecting. I’ve heard a handful of complaints from people about an oyster sauce that had that awful ocean of fishy smell. The reason why some products are tasting is that the oysters used weren’t fresh. But don’t let that turn you off. There are exceptional brands that guarantee quality over their products. Well, this review talks about the oyster sauce products that deserve your attention.
Top Oyster Sauce Brands
1. Kikkoman Red Label Oyster Sauce
Kikkoman is a universally recognized brand when it comes to Asian-style condiments and sauces. It is also a leading name when it comes to premium-quality oyster sauce. The brand stands out from the rest because it understands what Asians need and want from their food. This product is marketed as a rich and all-natural oyster-flavored sauce. Fresh oyster is the main ingredient, with a bevy of organic flavor enhancers.
This oyster sauce effectively balances the slight bitterness from the oyster and the sweetness of the added ingredients. We are impressed with its texture and the fact that it does not have that ocean or fishy flavor. It does not contain monosodium glutamate, which some people will appreciate. We think it offers one of the most pleasing tastes for an oyster sauce.
– Represents the ideal Asian taste
– Extracted from fresh oysters
– Offers an extra savory flavor
– There’s an attractive and thick texture
– Balance of bitterness and sweetness
2. Maekrua Brand Original Thai Oyster
While most people are familiar with Kikkoman and Lee Kum Kee as the top oyster sauce brands, the truth is there are classic recipes out there that deserve your attention. One of the most underrated brands is that of Maekrua. Its oyster sauce is an authentic Thai creation, marketed as something that can be used for enhancing the flavor of food or for seasoning. This product comes in a 300cc bottle in a neat packaging. The oyster extract is reinforced by sodium benzoate, soybeans, and cornstarch.
This one should be your best bet when you’re stir-frying. It is rich in flavor and tastes like it is made from fresh oysters. You get that feeling that the oysters were immediately processed to maintain their freshness. The only downside is that it’s difficult to find this product in a local grocery. Your best chance is to buy it online.
– Authentic Thai oyster sauce version
– Versatile enough for cooking, flavoring, and seasoning
– Made from fresh oysters
– Does not contain artificial ingredients
3. Asamurasaki Oyster Flavored Soy Sauce
China may be own the distinction of being the oyster sauce pioneer, but it does not necessarily mean that all the best options come from the Chinese. The best to come out of another country is the Asamurasaki oyster sauce. Like the Maekrua oyster sauce, this one comes with a distinctive flavor and texture. The Japanese take on oyster sauce contains soy sauce, salt, sugar, and mirin as flavor enhancers. But the highlight is the incorporation of a naturally brewed soy sauce called the “honjozo.”
We’re impressed with this oyster-flavored soy sauce simply because it tastes like no other. Perhaps the biggest reason is the umami flavor that is perfectly infused with the taste of fresh oysters. Unlike the first two products we discussed, this one surprisingly comes with a light taste. While the Maekrua is best paired with stir fry, this one is your bet if you want to enhance the flavor of your soup, salad, or even tofu.
– Comes in a big 600ml bottle
– Contains authentic umami flavor
– Soy-based oyster sauce
– Added flavor with mirin and brewed soy sauce
4. Shirakiku Non-GMO Oyster Sauce
It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the Shirakiku oyster sauce as a “top 5” product. What makes it stand out is the fact that it retains the earthy and savory taste of a premium oyster sauce but at a remarkably low price. When you look at the ingredients, the product does not contain a lot of fancy stuff, which probably is why it retains the natural oyster flavor.
This product is non-GMO and gluten-free, which is why it is the ideal choice for health-conscious individuals. However, it is worth mentioning that the earthy natural taste can be subjective. For instance, one of our editors isn’t a fan of the tangible fish flavor.
– Does not contain MSG
– Comes in a smart packaging with a twist cap
– As natural as it comes with no gluten and GMO components
– Reasonable price
5. Lee Kum Kee Panda Oyster Sauce (Green Label)
Lee Kum Kee arguably has the widest range of oyster sauce products in the market, but this green label Panda brand takes the cake. It is the epitome of how an Asian-inspired sauce should be. Like all the other products in this list, the Panda brand oyster-flavored sauce does not contain artificial ingredients and preservatives. The makers claim that it has zero cholesterol and fat, too.
Lee Kum Kee’s Panda brand oyster sauce is an absolute delight when it comes to flavor. The savory and salty initial taste is followed by an irresistible sweetness and earthy flavor of the oyster. We like it for stir fry and tofu.
– Comes from a renowned brand
– The savory taste makes it stand out
– Natural flavor brings out the best in your dish
What’s Our Final Say?
The best thing about buying oyster sauce is that it won’t cost you a lot of money. You can even try all the products listed here and make your comparison. Since flavor and taste are always subjective, you’re better off figuring it out yourself. At least we tried our best to give you a narrowed down list of the best ones you can buy online.