Kitchen & Pantry

Vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce

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Oyster sauce is a very popular seasoning in Asian cooking. But for vegetarians… well, the oyster is an animal so oyster sauce cannot be used in vegetarian cooking. Fortunately, there is an alternative. There are “oyster” sauces made with mushrooms. This is what I use for Sam’s stir fries. I bought it at Shopwise. There was only this brand available so I picked up a bottle. The brand is Wan Ja Shan and it’s imported from Taiwan.

There’s more than one brand in the local market? Yes, and the ingredients lists vary.

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Wan Ja Shan vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce has soybeans and “mushroom powder.” Good enough but there are brands that specifically list “oyster mushrooms” among the ingredients. I saw a few at the Indian stores along U.N. Avenue. Too bad I didn’t pick up a bottle then. By the time I felt we really needed vegetarian mushroom sauce at home, I was constrained with the only brand available at the nearest supermarket.

A tip for those who want to try a vegetarian diet, whether as a lifestyle or out of curiosity: Vegetarian condiments and seasonings are available but you have to know where to go looking for them. Certainly not in regular supermarkets and groceries. Since Sam went vegetarian, our best sources of condiments and seasonings are the Indian and Middle Eastern stores. There is a row of them along U.N. Avenue in Manila. Korean stores also sell a lot of items that are vegetarian-friendly, including frozen vegetable dumplings for those days when you just want to quick meal without a lot of work.

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