Sauces for Oysters


Oysters are a popular dish at many seafood restaurants. Usually served raw, oysters come with many sauces. Depending on the restaurant and chef, the sauce accompanying oysters will vary. However, there are several standard sauces that suit the raw, fresh taste of oysters.

Mignonette Sauces

  • Mignonette sauce is a vinegar- and white wine-based sauce that adds a tanginess to the oysters. The wine and vinegar are slowly heated in a saucepan to thicken the sauce. Chopped shallots and white pepper are added for extra flavor. Some chefs add extra ingredients such as soy sauce or salt to balance out the somewhat bitter flavor of the sauce. The sauce is usually served in a small dish to allow customers to choose the amount to add.

Five-Spice Sauces

  • This sauce is especially popular in Taiwan, Japan and China. It is a sweet and savory sauce that uses soy sauce as its base. The primary ingredients besides soy sauce are sugar, garlic and Chinese five-spice powder. The sauce's name is derived from the five-spice powder's distinctive flavoring. Five-spice powder contains ingredients that combine the five traditional flavors in Chinese cuisine: savory, salty, bitter, sour and sweet. The ingredients of five-spice powder can vary, but they usually include star anise and cloves. This sauce is usually served directly on the oyster itself.

Chili Sauces

  • Chili sauces add a spicy flavor to the experience of oyster-eating. Though there are many variants of this sauce, it always contains chilies of some sort that can stimulate the eater's taste buds. Some common bases for a chili sauce are olive oil and white wine. Lime juice is also a common addition. This sauce is commonly served in a dish, allowing the eater to choose her desired amount of spiciness.

Cocktail Sauce

  • Many chefs serve cold seafood dishes with cocktail sauce by habit. Oysters are no exception. An oyster cocktail sauce is much like a shrimp cocktail sauce in that it is ketchup-based and versatile. Some common additions to the ketchup are salt, vinegar and lemon juice; all of these ingredients move the sauce away from the sweetness spectrum and toward a saltier and more bitter flavor. Special varieties of this sauce incorporate the strong flavors of ingredients such as pre-bottled chili sauce or wasabi, Japanese horseradish. There is no standard of adding this sauce directly to the oyster or serving it on the side.

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  • Yana Chen; Hu-Di Tapas Bar Chef; Taipei
  • "On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals"; Sarah Labensky et. al.; 2010
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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