Vegetables stir-fried with oyster sauce – this savoury dish is a favourite for many of us. But while vegetables are an important source of minerals such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, potassium, fibre and phytochemicals, this dish is high in sodium because it has been prepared with oyster sauce, says Jocelyn Chia Su-Lin, a dietitian at Singapore General Hospital.
Here’s another piece of news: Oyster sauce, despite its name, contains precious little of the mollusc. Instead, it is made from sugar, salt and oyster extracts, then thickened with cornstarch and darkened with caramel. To give the sauce its rich flavour, monosodium glutamate is added by manufacturers.
So what are we to make of oyster sauce? “Compared to soya sauce, for example, it has less than half the amount of sodium (190mg to 400mg per teaspoon),” explains Chia. Nonetheless, she believes we do not lose out on any nutritional benefits if we pass on oyster sauce because it is merely a flavor enhancer – and nothing else.