Difference Between Oyster and Fish Sauce (With Table)

A variety of sauces are used across the globe for preparing gravy dishes or adding the necessary punch to boring food items. Soy sauce, chilly sauce, tomato sauce, and the list is endless. There is a customary tradition of preparing rich sauces using the delicate flavors of certain seafood. Among them, oysters and fish are widely chosen. When their oils combine with other ingredients, the spark added to any dish is simply unmatched.

Oyster Sauce vs Fish Sauce

The main difference between oyster sauce and fish sauce is that the former is made up of oysters (boiled at low heat for long durations) while the latter is made up of fish (fermented with sea salt). Oyster sauce has a thick viscous nature while the fish sauce is much flowy, just like apple cider vinegar.

Oyster sauce is a lighter version of soy sauce prepared using boiled oysters. It can be made using some vegan alternatives as well. Some of the dishes prepared using oyster sauce include fried rice, vegetable pasta, and other Asian dishes which require deep frying. Cornstarch blends well with oyster sauce and can be used as a marinate for preparing other non-vegetarian delicacies. The sauce remains fresh for about two to three weeks.

Fish sauce is made using a proportionate combination of fermented fish and anchovies. The preparation method is longer as the fish smells a lot. This makes it difficult to store it with any other type of condiment as the flavor is instantly masked. The consistency is akin to that of hard water and fish sauce does not make up for a good marinate. It is best suited for making sides, garlic-infused dishes, and some other forms of fermented seafood.

Comparison Table Between Oyster Sauce And Fish Sauce

Parameters of ComparisonOyster SauceFish Sauce
Method of PreparationIt is made by boiling oysters and adding other herbs and spices. It is prepared using fish that is fermented using salt and then combined with other condiments.
Consistency It is thicker than soy sauce. It is less consistent than soy sauce.
TasteIt tastes a bit sweet. It has a salty and slightly nutty flavor.
ColorOyster sauce is brown in color. Fish sauce has a light reddish-brown color.
CaramelizationOysters are caramelized thoroughly before preparing oyster sauce. No caramelization takes place since fish stinks a lot.

What is Oyster Sauce?

Oyster sauce comprises a briny flavor and has no hint of seafood. The fermentation process is excluded since oysters provide flavoring agents just by bringing them to a slow boil. Once all the juices are released, many other condiments are added along with some salt. Large amounts of fluid also go into the preparation as the boiling process takes hours at a stretch.

The health benefits include a high sodium content and a high amount of healthy calories. It is low in proteins and other enriching nutrients. One of the many advantages includes the strong flavor which makes it economical. A few drops of this sauce can do wonders, unlike spoonfuls of soy sauce, fish sauce, etc.

Some savory dishes prepared using oyster sauce are fries, Asian delicacies, green vegetables, etc. It can easily be used as a garnish for salads, thanks to its slightly sweet taste. A funky taste is added to even the blandest soups by slight use of this sauce. People suffering from high blood pressure should not consume oyster sauce.

What is Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce comprises a punchy texture due to the inclusion of complementing spices and herbs. The procedure is longer than that of any other sauce. All fish types cannot be used to make fish sauce. Likewise, the fish sauce does not suit certain other kinds of seafood delicacies. Once fermentation is complete, the sauce gets ready after carefully mixing the other essentials.

The nutritional value attached to a fish sauce depends on the mode of preparation. If it is prepared synthetically, the preservatives might downgrade the health benefits. On the other hand, sauce prepared using fermented fish helps increase the metabolism and has many other health benefits too. All the dishes taste a bit tangy too.

Chinese cuisine has popularized the usage of fish sauce. Some of the most common soups include this as a side and give out a good aroma too. Once the fish sauce begins rotting, the pungent odor becomes unbearable. Such foods cannot be refrigerated for long. It is best to consume fresh sauce before its expiry date.

Main Differences Between Oyster Sauce And Fish Sauce

  1. The main ingredients of oyster sauce are oysters and water. On the other hand, fish sauce is made using fermented fish.
  2. The texture and flowability of oyster sauce is slightly different from that of fish sauce. The former is thicker while the latter is quite thin.
  3. Oyster sauce tastes a bit sweet while fish sauce has a salty but sour taste.
  4. The prominent color of fresh oyster sauce is dark brown while fish sauce has a lighter shade of coke.
  5. Oysters are caramelized with sugar for the preparation of oyster sauce while fish sauce does not include this step.


Both the sauces become the base of delicious cuisines and make the food much more popular. Health concerns are also kept at bay as these sauces have no chemical infusions. They need to be stored aptly to increase the shelf life. It is necessary to add small quantities when switching from fish sauce to oyster sauce and vice versa. Refrigeration is one of the best ways to preserve all kinds of freshly prepared sauces, including these two.

Food does not taste the same if both these sauces are mixed. Though dishes made exclusively with each of them might easily be served together. Another way of combining tastes might be interconversions. It can be achieved by cooking fish in oyster sauce and oysters in fish sauce. The powerful tastes bind well. All the dishes can be easily distinguished just by smelling them as some of the flavorful components included are completely distinct.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881460800767X
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10942912.2010.492542
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