One of my favorite types of restaurant are Dim Sum – the Chinese establishments where the food comes to you in little trolleys pushed around by – generally speaking – elderly Chinese ladies that don’t speak English. They’re usually very nice, and it’s always a hoot trying to figure out what the food they have in their cart is just from the pantomime and single-word answers.
Doesn’t matter, really. It’s all quite good, although I’ll pass on the chicken feet next time. The tendons are strangely chewy.
This brings me to one of the best deals I found at Costco in the last few months, Lee Kum Kee’s Premium Oyster Sauce.
I started with my reminiscing about Dim Sum restaurants because oyster sauce is the sauce that is traditionally served with the green vegetables the ladies carry in their trolleys – the only vegetable in the whole restaurant, as near I can tell.
I’ve always loved that sauce; I saw ordering the vegetables as an excuse to eat it.
When I saw the oyster sauce at Costco, being liquidated for $2.97 a bottle, I could not resist and bought one. When I took it home and discovered that it was the same as the shockingly salty but delicious sauce they have at Dim Sum, I wen back and bought 3 more. I would have bought more, but by then they had tun out and I got some of the last few bottles.
Where to start with Lee Kum Kee’s Oyster Sauce?
How about the packaging? As you can see, it is charmingly old-school, with women and little boys in what I imagine to be late 19th-century traditional Western-inspired Chinese clothing, eating and paddling. There are also giant oysters on the little boat on the label, just so you know what you’re getting.
Speaking of the packaging, there are also a few glaring spelling and syntax errors, in both English and French, on the label, but the sauce is so delicious that we’ll gloss over those. (seriously, though, LKK, if you’re reading this, I’d be happy to be hired to proof-read your labels before production. English and French. I can’t read Chinese.)
When it comes to the sauce, there are no words to describe it, but I’ll try to anyways. Visually speaking, it is incredibly smooth and glossy, almost other-worldly so, and has a rich dark-brown, almost black color. The real magic happens when you mix it with a stir-fry, or simply use it as a dipping sauce.
I’ve got to tell you right now, you have to love the taste of oysters, because this is what Lee Kum Kee’s Oyster Sauce gives you. There are no ifs nor buts about it.
The oyster flavor is strong and undeniable yet pleasingly subtle, bringing out the natural flavors of other ingredients and complementing them beautifully, whether you are cooking meat or vegetables or mushrooms or even plain noodles.
I’m sad that I only have a bottle and a half left.
Now, on to the other, more technical stuff. Remember when I said the Dim Sum sauce was salty? Well, this one is just as salty, and for the uninitiated, it is quite shocking.
As you can see by the nutritional information data sheet I’ve provided, each 18 grams of sauce contains 820 mg of sodium, or 34% of your daily recommended intake. I figure that’s about one tablespoon full, or near enough.
One the plus side, and as opposed to Hoisin Sauce, it’s not particularly sweet, so there you have it.
Don’t look for anything else as far as nutrition goes. A gram of protein, salt and some sugar. And a whole lot of oyster goodness!
The ingredients of Lee Kum Kee’s Oyster Sauce are as follows:
- Oyster Extract – (Oysters, Water and Salt)
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Salt – Again!
- Modified Corn Starch
- Wheat Flour
- Caramel Color
So what’s the bottom line with Lee Kum Kee’s Premium Oyster Sauce? If you see it, buy it. If you don’t see it, look for it. Even if it’s only to try. It’s absolutely delicious, and your cooking will take a giant lead forward just by adding this to your pantry. Do yourself, and your guests a favor, and take the plunge to a world of exotic yet pleasingly familiar flavor! (at least for me!)