What’s the difference between fish sauce and oyster sauce?

In this brief discussion, we’ll answer the question, “How are fish sauce and oyster sauce different from each other?” We will also talk about if fish sauce can be used in place of oyster sauce and what are the uses of fish sauce and oyster sauce.

What’s the difference between fish sauce and oyster sauce?

Fish sauce and oyster sauce are different from each other in terms of ingredients, flavour and usage. Fish sauce is a popular southeast Asian condiment made from fermented fish and salt. It has a solid pungent, salty, savoury flavour with a slightly fishy aroma.

Oyster sauce, on the other hand, is made from oysters simmered in soy sauce and spices. It has a rich savoury flavour that is slightly sweet and salty with a mild oyster flavour. 

Let us discuss the differences between fish sauce and oyster sauce in detail.

They both have a different taste

Fish sauce has a much fishier and saltier taste compared to oyster sauce. Oyster sauce has a sweet and briny taste compared to fish sauce.

Both sauces have different ingredients

Fish sauce is typically made of fermented fish, mainly anchovies that are mixed with salt. Oyster sauce, on the other hand, is made of caramelised oyster extract, sugar salt and water that has been simmered and thickened.

Both sauces have a different appearance

Fish sauce is mainly clear with a deep, red-brown tint whereas oyster sauce is a much darker, opaque brown sauce and has a similar texture to syrup.

Both sauces have a different consistency

Oyster sauce is much tucker in consistency compared to fish sauce. This is because oyster sauce contains sugar and cornstarch. Fish sauce is much thinner and has a liquid-like consistency.

Both sauces have a different aroma

Fish sauce has a much stranger and pungent aroma compared to oyster sauce. Oyster sauce has a more subtle aroma.

Can I use fish sauce instead of oyster sauce?

No, fish sauce cannot be substituted for oyster sauce. Both sauces have different flavours and consistency. This is why substituting one sauce with the other can potentially ruin your dish. 

If the recipe requires oyster sauce, using fish sauce can give a more tangy and salty flavour. Whereas, if the recipe calls for fish sauce, using oyster sauce will give it a more sweet flavour. Therefore, it is better to avoid substituting one sauce with the other.

What are the uses of fish sauce?

Fish sauce can be used for the following purposes:

  • Fish sauce is often used as a seasoning in place of salt to add flavour to dishes. It is particularly popular in Southeast Asian dishes, such as pho and pad Thai.
  • Fish sauce can be used as a base for salad dressings and dipping sauces, often mixed with lime juice, sugar, and chilli peppers.
  • Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in marinades. It helps to tenderise and flavour meats, poultry, and seafood.
  • Fish sauce can be used as a stir-fry sauce, providing a savoury and salty flavour to vegetables, noodles, and meats.
  • Fish sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce for dishes such as spring rolls, dumplings, and fresh vegetables.

What are the uses of oyster sauce?

Oyster sauce is used for the following purposes:

  • Just like fish sauce, the oyster sauce can also be used as a stir-fry sauce.
  • Oyster sauce can be used as a marinade to tenderise meats.
  • Oyster sauce can be used as a sauce for steamed dishes, such as steamed vegetables or fish, It helps to add flavour and richness.
  • Oyster sauce can be used as a base for salad dressings by mixing it with vinegar and sesame oil.
  • Oyster sauce is also used to add a sweet, savoury or umami flavour to soups such as ramen, pho or stews.

Conclusion

We answered the question, “How are fish sauce and oyster sauce different from each other?” We also talked about if fish sauce can be used in place of oyster sauce and what are the uses of fish sauce and oyster sauce.

References

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-fish-sauce#:~:text=Taste%3A%20Fish%20sauce%20is%20much,of%20reduced%20and%20caramelized%20oysters.
https://www.newidea.com.au/oyster-sauce-vs-fish-sauce
https://www.tastingtable.com/1080045/fish-sauce-vs-oyster-sauce-whats-the-difference/