Oyster sauce has a funny little origin story. While many aspects of Chinese cuisine have been around for centuries and sometimes millennia, oyster sauce was first created by accident in the late 19th century by a man in Zhuhai running a food stall that sold, among other things, oysters. At one point forgetting that he’d left oysters boiling in water, he later came back to find that the oyster water had reduced into a concentrated sauce. Moreover, he discovered that this happy accident was quite delicious!
Fast forward almost 150 years later, and this thick brown sauce is now a familiar taste used in not just Chinese cooking, but also many Southeast Asian cuisines. It’s both sweet and salty and for many is especially associated with Cantonese and other southern Chinese dishes. Its rich flavor helps impart an umami component to many foods; as such it’s popular with braised dishes, in stir-fries, with meats or vegetables… with a bunch of foods, really.
Uwajimaya carries oyster sauce in our condiments and sauces aisle, so you can always have this versatile sauce on hand.