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Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce                            is a viscous dark brown sauce commonly used in Chinese and Filipino cuisine. Oyster sauce is prepared from oysters, brine, umami flavor enhancers such as MSG, and typically contain chemical preservatives to increase its shelf life.

Oyster sauce was invented in 1888 by Mr. Lee Kam Sheung, in Nam Shui Village in Guangdong Province, China.  His company, Lee Kum Kee, continues to produce oyster sauce, to this day, along with a wide variety of Asian condiments.

Production

A "true" oyster sauce of good quality should be made by condensing oyster extracts, which is made by cooking oysters in water, where the aqueous mixture is then cooked until a desired viscosity has been reached. No other additives, not even salt, should be added to the sauce since the oysters should provide all the savory flavor. The sauce should be aromatic with great umami flavor. Unfortunately this method is expensive and only a handful of manufacturers are willing to use it.

Most oyster sauces are actually diluted solutions thicken with starch, chemical preservatives and caramel, with little or no oyster extracts. Typical oyster sauce also has large amounts of monosodium glutamate added, but in recent years MSG-free varieties can also be found. The taste of MSG and non-MSG variants may not be easily distinguishable.

Vegetarian oyster sauce prepared from mushrooms is also popular and generally cheaper, but generally contain more taste enhancers.

Use

Oyster sauce is capable of enhancing the flavor of many savory foods. It is often used as a topping for steamed vegetables such as kailan and in stir-fries.


From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

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