Do you feel uncertain about using oyster sauce or fish sauce for your fried rice? Do you need help distinguishing between these two sauces?
I used to believe both sauces were the same when I started cooking fried rice. Yet, the differences became apparent once I started using them more often. Now, the question is, which one is better, oyster sauce or fish sauce for fried rice?
Fish sauce is better when you want a strong and savory umami flavor, whereas oyster sauce is preferable for those who like a subtle sweetness in rice. You should also avoid fish sauce if you can’t stand overpowering smells, as it has a pungent fishy odor.
Should You Add Oyster Sauce or Fish Sauce to Fried Rice?
The most basic fried rice recipes only contain one or two sauces, like soy sauce. However, when I’m in the mood to eat fancy fried rice, I add a bit of oyster sauce or fish sauce too.
The primary reason behind using oyster or fish sauces is to add an “umami” flavor to the dish, which is pretty unique. It makes the rice taste rich, meaty, and savory. Both oyster sauce and fish sauce also impart a natural color to make the dish look more authentic.
Quick Comparison Table: Oyster Sauce or Fish Sauce for Fried Rice
The table below gives an overview of the differences between using oyster sauce and fish sauce for fried rice.
|Mild and sweet umami flavor
|Strong and savory umami flavor
|Prominent fishy smell
|Thick and gooey
|Thin and watery
|Less sodium content, less protein
|High sodium content, more protein
Difference Between Using Fish Sauce and Oyster Sauce for Fried Rice
I’ve used both oyster sauce and fish sauce for fried rice. Even if they both give the dish an umami taste, their effect on the final result differs!
Below are some aspects in which oyster sauce and fish sauce differ and how the use of each can affect your recipe.
You might think that oyster sauce and fish sauce have similar tastes due to their enriching umami flavor, but it’s not true!
On the other hand, oyster sauce is milder and provides a slight sweetness that is missing in fish sauce.
Therefore, I recommend oyster sauce for people with mild tastes, as the fish sauce flavor can get intense.
Both fish sauce and oyster sauce are seafood-based sauces, but you’ll still find a considerable difference in their aromas.
Fish sauce has an extremely noticeable and strong fishy smell, so if you add it to your fried rice, expect it to smell like seafood!
I cannot say the same for oyster sauce, as it is more neutral with a slightly fishy smell. Using oyster sauce won’t affect the overall aroma of your fried rice.
Oyster sauce and fish sauce both appear brown, but they don’t impart similar colors to fried rice.
Fish sauce has a clear reddish-brown color, so it often darkens the rice slightly. I recommend using it if you want to keep the rice color intact.
However, though oyster sauce is the milder tasting of the two, it is dark brown, which you may mistake for black! It darkens the rice significantly and changes the dish’s color.
The consistencies of oyster sauce and fish sauce are poles apart!
Fish sauce has a thin and watery consistency, so it won’t affect the rice’s texture. On the other hand, oyster sauce contains cornstarch and caramel, which contribute to its thick and viscous consistency.
I accidentally added more oyster sauce than required while cooking fried rice once. Let’s just say I ended up with a mushy, dark, and inedible dish!
If you’re diet conscious, you should consider how the nutritional values of both sauces differ.
There’s no clear indication of which sauce is healthier than the other, as they each have their own issues.
Oyster sauce contains less sodium than fish sauce. Yet, it also has less protein and calcium. On the other hand, fish sauce has a high amount of nutrients, but the excessive salt content makes it less healthy to consume.
The table below shows the nutritional values (per 100 grams) of these sauces.
Can You Use Both Fish Sauce and Oyster Sauce in Fried Rice?
If you have both fish sauce and oyster sauce at home, you can use both in your fried rice. Many people think that it’s the best way to prepare fried rice!
I suggest making a mixture of these sauces and some other flavorful ingredients and adding them to your stir-fry. Below are some of my favorite sauce combinations for fried rice:
- 1 ½ tablespoon oyster sauce + 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon oyster sauce + 2 tablespoons fish sauce + ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 ¼ tablespoon oyster sauce + 1 ¼ tablespoon fish sauce + 1 ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
Final Verdict – Oyster Sauce or Fish Sauce for Fried Rice
Oyster sauce and fish sauce are both perfect for taking your fried rice to the next level! Yet, I understand that choosing between them can get annoying.
I suggest opting for oyster sauce if you want the fried rice to taste mild and have a slight sweetness. You should also choose it if you’re on a low-sodium diet.
Alternatively, fish sauce is for those who want to give their fried rice an intense umami flavor. It’s suitable for a high-protein diet too.
Can you use fish sauce instead of oyster sauce in fried rice?
You can substitute fish sauce for oyster sauce in fried rice, but you won’t get the sweetness. Instead, try adding some brown sugar. You should also reduce the amount of fish sauce as it has a more robust flavor profile than oyster sauce.
What is oyster sauce best for?
Oyster sauce is best for stir-fry dishes and soups, stews, salads, or marinades because of its subtle umami flavors.