Sauces are tricky because they may appear to be non-vegan, some of them may be made with plant-based ingredients.
Oyster sauce is one of the most popular sauces that is umami-rich and is one of the primary ingredients in Asian cuisine. But just as the name says, oyster sauce is made from the oyster extract and is generally not considered vegan. But nowadays, there are many vegan options for everything, including oyster sauce.
So in this article, we will see what oyster sauce is made of and whether the oyster sauce is vegan or not.
What is Oyster Sauce?
Oyster sauce is a rich, syrup-like sauce popular in Chinese cooking. It is produced from oyster extract, but contrary to its name, it does not taste like oysters at all. On the other hand, Oyster sauce has an earthy, sweetish, and salty flavor.
It’s made with boiled down (caramelized) oyster juices, salt, and sugar; some variants also include soy sauce thickened with cornstarch. Oyster sauce is a dark brown, almost black sauce with a thick consistency.
Is Oyster Sauce Vegan?
No, most people do not consider oyster sauce to be vegan. It may be appropriate for some vegetarians (e.g., pescatarians). Although some outspoken “vegans” support, or used to support, the consumption of oysters, the practice is widely demotivated in the vegan community.
The good news is that vegan oyster sauces are not difficult to find! To simulate the umami flavor, mushrooms (typically shiitake or oyster mushrooms) or mushroom extracts are used in the vegan version of oyster sauce.
What is Oyster Sauce made of?
In comparison to the traditional and apparently cost-prohibitive process of caramelizing oyster broth, most mass-produced manufacturers use the oyster extract in combination with a large amount of sugar and cornstarch. In any case, this is how the sauce is traditionally made. Nowadays, a variety of alternate routes are used to achieve the desired rich taste at a lower cost.
Other ingredients, such as MSG and soy sauce, can be added to enhance the flavor and darken the color.
The vegetarian and vegan variants are typically made with the same ingredients, but there will be soybeans, brown sugar, and mushroom flavor rather than oysters.
What does Oyster Sauce taste like?
Oyster sauce tastes similar to a cross between soy sauce and barbecue sauce. It’s salty and sweet at the same time; the salt comes from the brininess of the oysters, and the sweet is dynamic, with tidbits of caramel.
It has a savory, tangy flavor and is less salty than that of soy sauce. On the mouth, it will also have an earthy flavor. The presence of an earthy flavor would indicate the quality of any oyster sauce.
It’s widely used in Asian cuisines, such as Chinese and Thai dishes, for stir-fries, meat condiments, and dipping sauces.
Vegan Oyster Sauce Brands
This vegetarian oyster sauce gets its deep umami flavor from mushrooms rather than seafood. It’s made with a delectable combination of soybeans, wheat, salt, sugar, and mushrooms. This vegetarian sauce can be used in stir-fry dishes or as a dip.
It improves the flavor and aroma of meat, tofu, and vegetables. This multipurpose product can also be used to make marinades and sauces. It goes well with noodle and rice dishes. Wan Ja Shan Vegan Mushroom Oyster Sauce also contains harmful ingredients such as MSG.
Kikkoman Gluten-free vegan Oyster Sauce tastes just like our traditional oyster sauce. It has a savory flavor with a hint of sweetness. This authentic sauce is ideal for anyone attempting to replicate their favorite vegan Asian dishes.
Kikkoman Gluten-Free Vegan Oyster Sauce is ideal for making Asian-inspired dishes at homes, such as rice bowls, wraps, glazed vegetables, salads, and more. Kikkoman Gluten-free Vegetarian Oyster Sauce is made to the highest quality standards that Kikkoman customers have come to expect.
The deep umami flavor of Lucky Foods Organic Oyster Flavored Sauce comes from mushrooms rather than oysters. It’s made with a delicious blend of tamari Soy Sauce, cane sugar, coconut sugar, sea salt, and cornstarch.
This authentic sauce is perfect for anyone trying to recreate their favorite vegan Asian dishes. The Lucky Foods Organic Oyster Flavored Sauce contains no hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup. It goes well with all stir-fries, braises, and marinades, and it truly adds an enchanting dimension to a variety of dishes.
Vegan Oyster Sauce Recipe
You’ll want to smother everything in this Vegetarian Oyster Sauce! This shiitake mushroom-made homemade oyster sauce is gluten-free, vegan friendly, and has no additives. It takes only 6 ingredients and 15 minutes to make. It has a deeply savory and umami flavor that is absolutely delicious!
- Soy sauce – Adds umami and saltiness.
- Coconut sugar – We use coconut sugar instead of white sugar to keep this sauce refined sugar-free. It also adds a subtle caramel flavor and aids in the darkening of the sauce.
- Mushroom powder – It is simply dried mushrooms that have been ground up. You can easily make your own by blending dried shiitake mushrooms.
- Cornstarch – It is used to thicken the sauce.
- Miso paste – Another ingredient that I believe adds a lot of umami and saltiness. Red miso paste works best in this recipe, but any miso paste will suffice.
- Salt Mushroom Water – To dilute the sauce and balance the sweetness/saltiness.
How to make Vegan Oyster Sauce
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp mushroom powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- Begin by soaking the mushrooms overnight and then using the mushroom water as the liquid base.
- Strain the soaking water through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any remaining dirt. Using scissors, cut the rehydrated softened mushrooms (optional, you can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender). Blend the mushrooms and soak water until smooth.
- Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. The pan should not be mixed or swirled. Allow the mixture to bubble until it turns amber in color.
- Do not take your gaze away from it as soon as it begins to change color, as it can over-thicken or burn in a fraction of seconds. Remove from the heat and add the hot water. Because of the vigorous bubbling, the water may splash. Stir the caramel–it should be slightly watery and silky at this point.
- Stir in the caramel sauce after adding the blended mushroom mixture to the saucepan. Return the heat to low to medium-low.
- Whisk in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, miso paste, salt, and any additional seasonings of choice. Then, while whisking continuously, drizzle in the cornstarch slurry until it has thickened to the desired consistency. As the mixture cools, it will thicken even more. Adjust the saltiness to your preference.
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Although the traditional oyster sauce is not a vegan-friendly condiment, a vegetarian version is now perfect for your plant-based diet. So don’t ignore this flavorful sauce just because it has the word “oyster” in it!
You can always make your own oyster sauce if you’re a vegan. You can try the above vegan Oyster Sauce and enjoy this delectable condiment full of umami.