Hoisin Sauce vs Oyster Sauce – What’s the Difference?

Particularly, in Chinese cuisine, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are key ingredients. They are excellent condiments and dipping sauces for a variety of dishes.

If you are pro-Chinese food, you’re probably aware of the differences between the two sauces. If you aren’t sure, read on because we’ll explain how to tell the difference between hoisin sauce and oyster sauce in terms of taste, texture, and ingredients.

What Exactly is the Distinction Between Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce?

Despite the fact that both sauces are often used in Asian cuisine, they differ in a number of ways.

Oyster sauce is made using oyster filtrate. Initially, the oyster extracts are sweetened and essentially cooked down. Then salt and sugar are added. To make the oyster sauce a little bit thicker, some producers could additionally add soy sauce and corn starch. It’s dark brown or black.

Hoisin sauce, on the other hand, is completely vegan. It is popular in Chinese cuisine, especially among vegetarians. From fermented soybeans, it is made. Wheat flour and soybeans are combined to form a paste, to which oil, garlic, salt, and a sweetener are later added. The sauce is rich and reddish-brown in color.

Ingredients in Oyster and Hoisin Sauce

Apart from similar components such as salt, starch, and water, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce contain different ingredients. They include:

  • Hoisin sauce: Soybeans, fennel, sesame seeds, spices, soybean paste (fermented), red chili, sugar, vinegar, and garlic.
  • Oyster Sauce: Thickeners such as cornstarch, oyster extract, or filter and flavor

The Taste and Texture of Hoisin and Oyster Sauce

The taste and texture of both oyster sauce and hoisin vary, and here is how:

Hoisin sauce

This sauce contains a mixture of sweet, sour, and spicy tastes, although the sweetness is more. The texture of this sauce is smooth and kind of shiny or slimy. This sauce is also less salty as compared to oyster sauce.

Oyster sauce

The taste in the sauce ranges from sweet to salty. It also has a blend of “umami” flavors. It contains a hint of oyster flavor and is more saline than hoisin sauce. Its texture is smooth, just like hoisin, but thicker, so it has a denser texture.

The Variety of Ways in Which Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce are used in Cooking

The common ways in which hoisin sauce is used in cooking include but are not limited to:

  • As a condiment, especially in Vietnamese cuisine
  • In noodles and stir-fries.
  • As a marinade
  • Seasoning of fish and meat, especially in Cantonese cuisine,
  • As a dipping sauce, e.g. for dumplings, spring rolls, and lettuce wraps

Below are some of the regular uses of oyster sauce.

  • Sichuan Noodle Seasoning
  • An ingredient in Pad Thai
  • Stir-frying vegetables and seasoning beef

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How Do Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce Compare in Terms of Nutritional Value?

As much as they are both traditional Chinese condiments, they have differences in terms of nutritional value.

  • Hoisin has a lower salt level compared to oyster sauce. In the estimate, hoisin sauce has a 1615/100g salt level, whereas oyster sauce has a 2733/100g salt level.
  • Hoisin sauce has an estimated sugar level of 27/100g, whereas oyster sauce does not have any sugar.
  • Hoisin sauce is a vegan-friendly sauce, hence a favorite among vegans, whereas oyster sauce is not vegan-friendly since its main ingredient is an oyster extract.

Is Hoisin and Oyster Sauce Good for a Long time?

Hoisin and oyster sauce’s shelf lives are not the same. If Hoisin sauce is kept unopened, it can preserve for up to three years. Once you open it, it can last for about one to two years, only if well maintained.

Oyster sauce that is unopened should last for about 1-2 years. When it is opened, it can last up to a year when it is properly stored.

If the above sauces are used past these times, their flavor and texture change, therefore, becoming unsafe for consumption.

Is it Possible to Use Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce Interchangeably?

Yes, it is possible to use the two sauces in place of each other. However, you have to be careful of the difference in flavors since the oyster sauce is saltier than hoisin. If you are using the oyster sauce in place of hoisin, use a little bit of it to avoid making your food too salty.

Since hoisin and oyster sauces are both used to make stir-fry, they can also be used interchangeably in this scenario. They can also be used interchangeably as condiments and a dipping sauce. You should also note that as much as they can be used interchangeably, it is not advisable since the oyster sauce is saltier; therefore, you will have to dilute it with a less salty sauce.

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