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PERSONAL CHEF

PERSONAL CHEF
FOOD FOR REAL PEOPLE

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

IS OYSTER SAUCE REALLY OYSTER SAUCE?

Today's post is about oyster sauces, like what is really in those bottles in the Asian aisles that says "Oyster Flavored Sauce" Or "Vegetarian Oyster Sauce"

Being a guy growing up eating and cooking mostly Asian foods, Pac Region, and Island foods, using oyster flavored sauces was common. It goes hand in hand with the likes of shrimp sauce or fish sauce.

So let's take a look at what is really in these sauces shall we?

Lee Kum Kee's Oyster Flavored Sauce
As the brand states, it is an oyster flavored sauce, the ingredients are as follows, water, sugar, salt, oyster extract (11%), flavor Enhancer (E621), modified cornstarch, wheat flour, color (E150c).

This is a very common brand used in a lot of Chinese restaurants, as well as some fine Chinese restaurants that charge an arm and a leg for a wok fried oyster chicken. When science is at hand, companies can do things to enhance life, such as oyster flavored sauce. For one, it would be almost impossible to have a 100 % oyster sauce, you will need to have preservatives inside to make it last long and cost effective. And to thicken the sauce cornstarch is added, and wheat flour. 

WARNING: Wheat is used, and oysters, if you are allergic to these items, do not consume.

As of this writing, I have used this sauce for many people in private sessions, and none of them complained after I explained that this is how the sauce is made, and if they do not want to consume it, I have really no other alternative than to use a vegetarian oyster sauce which is a mock sauce made with mushrooms.

Again, a lot of fine Chinese and Asian restaurants use this brand or similarly made sauces and it works fine for any wok dish you will be creating such as oyster beef, oyster chicken, or soups as well. 

What is Enhancer (E621)? In the United States the Food and Drug Administration considers MSG Monosodium Glutamate as an additive to be used in food preparation. It is added to foods to give it a very authentic Japanese flavor that comes from foods common in Japan such as seaweed etc. So the E621 label is part of the European Union's E code designating it as MSG, hence E-621, and is limited in usage to only a certain type of food production.

What is Colour (E150c)? Again in the European Union, the E code and number 150c, designates this as a food coloring, and the color it is assigned to is the colors Browns & Blacks. So if you look and observe most oyster flavored sauces or even soy sauces you will notice that those sauces are colored in the browns and blacks. Now it does not define the colors as non-organic or organic. We must assume it is not. Is there organic oyster flavored sauces? Yes, mostly made of mushrooms that are organic, making it a mock sauce.

© 2017