I’m Out of Oyster Sauce! What Can I Substitute Instead?

Oyster sauce can easily be forgotten about behind its more popular pantry neighbors like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, or your favorite homemade stir-fry sauce. But this savory sauce, which is often labeled as “oyster flavored sauce,” is one…

Oyster sauce can easily be forgotten about behind its more popular pantry neighbors like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, or your favorite homemade stir-fry sauce. But this savory sauce, which is often labeled as “oyster flavored sauce,” is one of our favorite ways to bring salty, umami-packed flavor to vegetable stir-fries, shrimp fried rice, and more. So what should you use if you run out of oyster sauce? And what is oyster sauce, anyway?

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Oyster sauce originated in the southern part of China in the early 20th century and has since become a beloved ingredient, particularly in Cantonese cooking. It’s typically drizzled over vegetables like Chinese broccoli once cooked. Nowadays, the most popular brand of oyster sauce found in many grocery stores is Lee Kum Kee, which makes its sauce with water, sugar, oyster extractives (oyster, water, salt), modified cornstarch, monosodium glutamate, wheat flour, and caramel color. It doesn’t just taste salty, nor does it taste entirely fishy. It’s a complex sauce, not to mention one that has a rich, thick consistency that resembles ketchup. Other brands of oyster sauce will have a similar flavor but may flow more easily from the bottle like maple syrup.

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This TikTok Hack Is Saving Our Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is good for adding an intense, red hue, deep tomato flavor, and body to bolognese sauce, chili, and marinara sauce. Need to dress up as a vampire for Halloween in a pinch? Tomato paste is there in all its faux-gory glory. But nobody’s perf…

Tomato paste is good for adding an intense, red hue, deep tomato flavor, and body to bolognese sauce, chili, and marinara sauce. Need to dress up as a vampire for Halloween in a pinch? Tomato paste is there in all its faux-gory glory. But nobody’s perfect. If you’ve cooked with tomato paste before, then you know well that most recipes call for only all for a tablespoon or two of the paste; since most cans of tomato paste are sold in eight-ounce quantities, it will take a lot of chili and marinara sauce to get through the entire can. And whoever finishes an entire can without it going bad? Seriously, email me. I want to know. And mold, as always, creeps its way in and finds a way to ruin the leftover tomato paste before you can even make a dent. So instead of crossing your fingers and lying to yourself, saying “I’ll definitely use this all up before it goes bad,” listen to the beauty and brains of TikTok.

In a recent video posted to the social media app, TikTok user Rebeca Huffman addressed this very issue. “It’s the saga of the wasted tomato paste,” she begins. Instead of letting mold and rust fester in the can, she came up with the easiest way to store tomato paste, hands down. Grab a snack-size Ziploc bag, scoop the tomato paste into the bag, and pat it down to remove all of the air and flatten the contents. Next, seal the bag, take the spine of a knife (aka not the sharp part of the blade), and create perforations by scoring the bag to create four distinct rectangles of tomato paste. Place the bag flat down in the freezer and let it harden completely. Next time you need just a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, break off one of the individual squares and add it to whatever you’re cooking. Most days, TikTok makes me feel old and out of touch, but after this hack, I’ve never felt stronger.

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Why We’re Drizzling Hot Honey on Literally Everything

In the musical Wicked, the main characters Elpheba and Glinda say to each other, “because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” That’s how I feel about hot honey. This spicy-meets-sweet condiment hasn’t been on the market for very long, but in jus…

In the musical Wicked, the main characters Elpheba and Glinda say to each other, “because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” That’s how I feel about hot honey. This spicy-meets-sweet condiment hasn’t been on the market for very long, but in just over 10 years, it’s become super popular among spice lovers. The product was first introduced by Mike Kurtz, a former music industry professional turned pizza maker turned hot honey creator. While Kurtz was studying abroad in Brazil in college, he ate at a small pizzeria that served their pies with jars of honey infused with whole chile peppers. “I loved the flavor so much that when I got back to the states, I started experimenting with honey-chile infusions,” he told me in an interview. Kurtz says that the ingredient was even somewhat of a novelty in Brazil and that it’s not in any way a traditional condiment.

When Kurtz finally perfected his recipe, he started bottling it and giving it to friends and family, as well as serving it with the pies he was making at Paulie Gee’s, a Brooklyn pizzeria. Demand continued to grow and in 2010, he launched Mike’s Hot Honey.

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Jarred Matbucha Is the Ultimate Pantry Staple

There can never be too many condiments. Tomatoes are the vehicle that often drives these concoctions—salsa, harissa, and ketchup, to name a few—to stardom. Another tomato-based sauce, matbucha, is starting to gain more mainstream popularity as it’s inc…

There can never be too many condiments. Tomatoes are the vehicle that often drives these concoctions—salsa, harissa, and ketchup, to name a few—to stardom. Another tomato-based sauce, matbucha, is starting to gain more mainstream popularity as it’s increasingly sold premade. Of course, the zesty Moroccan mix of tomatoes, red peppers, olive oil, garlic, and spices has a long history in households and restaurant kitchens, but this relative newcomer to the manufactured condiment game certainly is worth paying attention to.

Matbucha likely originated in the cuisines of the Maghreb region in North Africa, which includes countries like Egypt and Tunisia, but it’s most strongly associated with Moroccan cuisine. Matbucha means “cooked” in Arabic, and it is made by slowly cooking down fragrant roasted garlic, juicy tomatoes, oil, and sweet and/or hot peppers with a selection of North African spices that change from cook to cook—cumin, paprika, and turmeric are all likely to make an appearance. Its flavor is a balanced union of acidity, heat, saltiness, and sweetness. In Israel, where many Moroccan Jews have roots, matbucha is a common picnic and breakfast accompaniment to cooked meals, sandwiches, and barbecue, beloved by myriad ethnicities within the country. It’s also a frequent member of the salatim, or salads, in a meze spread you’d find at a Mediterranean restaurant. Its popularity in Israel is perhaps best showcased by the fact that it’s manufactured by a number of local brands and sold at grocery stores. In the U.S., it’s been primarily a home-cooked indulgence—until now.

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The Greatest British Condiment That Ever Lived

My childhood had plenty of very English foods—crumpets, cucumber sandwiches, and beans on toast—but sandwich pickle slipped by me. It took me dating an Englishman while in college in India to be formally introduced.

This man had but one culinary skill…

My childhood had plenty of very English foods—crumpets, cucumber sandwiches, and beans on toast—but sandwich pickle slipped by me. It took me dating an Englishman while in college in India to be formally introduced.

This man had but one culinary skill (I wasn’t far ahead, either, at the time)—turning out the perfect cheese and pickle sandwich. He had a precise, if painfully slow, manner about his efforts: a uniform amount of butter spread evenly on every slice, each cut of double Gloucester of ideal thickness, and finally, a perfectly apportioned dollop of Branston Pickle.

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Best Guacamole

If you need a last-minute appetizer for a cookout this weekend, make this guacamole recipe! Actually, scratch that. Make this guacamole recipe if you need an appetizer for a cookout, party, gathering, or get-together at any time of year. With just 6 in…


If you need a last-minute appetizer for a cookout this weekend, make this guacamole recipe! Actually, scratch that. Make this guacamole recipe if you need an appetizer for a cookout, party, gathering, or get-together at any time of year. With just 6 ingredients, it’s super easy to make, and it never fails to be a hit. It’s creamy, tangy, salty, and delicious. Even Jack, who’s generally not a fan of avocado, can’t get enough of this homemade guac. How to Make Guacamole If this is your first time learning how to make guacamole, you won’t believe how easy it is! You […]

A Guide to Cheese & Condiments For Summer Meals

I consider both cheese and condiments to be essential when it comes to elevating a summer spread. Whether I’m making a cheese plate or a more formal meal, I always try to make sure sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami notes are present in the cheeses …

I consider both cheese and condiments to be essential when it comes to elevating a summer spread. Whether I’m making a cheese plate or a more formal meal, I always try to make sure sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami notes are present in the cheeses and condiments I put out: together, they make for a party on the taste buds. Try these 5 cheese and condiment pairings for a future summer cheese board, sandwich, or hot-off-the-grill dish.

1. Taleggio & Grainy Mustard

Photo by Marissa Mullen

Taleggio is a wash-rind cow’s milk cheese from Italy, notable for its creamy texture, orange exterior, and pungent aroma. Although Taleggio’s smell can be potent, its flavor is mild and buttery with a fruity tang. I love the combination of taleggio with a whole grain mustard, especially on something super-savory, like a hot dog. Cover a hot dog bun with room temperature taleggio, followed by a thin layer of mustard. The savory juices from the hot dog complement the pungent cheese, while the mustard cuts through with a tangy finish.

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Easy Mango Salsa

With Cinco de Mayo coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d pop in to share this mango salsa. It’s one of my favorite recipes to make throughout the spring and summer because it’s refreshing, fun, and so darn simple. Follow the recipe once o…


With Cinco de Mayo coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d pop in to share this mango salsa. It’s one of my favorite recipes to make throughout the spring and summer because it’s refreshing, fun, and so darn simple. Follow the recipe once or twice, and you’ll be able to leave the measuring cups in the drawer and just eyeball the ingredients. After that, you can change it up in all sorts of ways. Mix in avocado, or add some black beans. You could even toss in pickled jalapeños! Because this is such an easy, flexible recipe, it lends itself well […]

Heinz Ketchup Packet Shortage Has Delivery Services Seeing Red

The latest effect of pandemic-influenced consumer habits is a Heinz tomato ketchup package shortage that’s affecting food delivery services around the country. What’s the culprit behind this condiment scarcity? Food delivery services.
As restaurants c…

The latest effect of pandemic-influenced consumer habits is a Heinz tomato ketchup package shortage that's affecting food delivery services around the country. What's the culprit behind this condiment scarcity? Food delivery services.

As restaurants continue to limit in-person dining capacities and customers continue to order in food, the country's seemingly limitless supply of ketchup packets has begun to take a hit. Glass and plastic ketchup bottles that typically live on restaurant tables have been largely unused since restaurants pivoted to delivery and takeout models more than a year ago, and the sharp increase in to-go orders has resulted in elevated demand for single-serving condiments as well (a move first recommended by the CDC to avoid shared dispensers).

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The Case for Cooking With Vinegar

By an unfortunate set of circumstances, characterizing a person or thing as “sour as vinegar” implies negative traits. It may stem from the French origins of the word vinegar, vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”—an unfair assumption that all vinegar is made…

By an unfortunate set of circumstances, characterizing a person or thing as "sour as vinegar" implies negative traits. It may stem from the French origins of the word vinegar, vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”—an unfair assumption that all vinegar is made of bad juice. I can tell you for a fact, the best vinegars in the world are made of superlative ingredients, and fermented with intention. The outcome: a bright pantry staple that accentuates any food it touches.

Having worked in many restaurant kitchens, I couldn’t count if I tried the number of times I’ve heard a chef say, "If a dish is missing something, it probably needs acid." With this in mind, I wrote a book called Acid Trip, in which I traversed the globe learning how to make myriad vinegars, as well as cook with them. I’d be lying if I said I found one steadfast rule for how to use vinegar, aside from the belittling option to use it to clean.

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