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Oyster Sauce

We required our winning brand to be both authentic and complex.

How We Tested

Comparing Two Types of Oyster Sauce

There are actually two types of oyster sauce. The first is bottled oyster sauce—called oyster-flavored sauce. The second is a cooked sauce that contains oyster-flavored sauce—think, for example, about ordering a dish such as "broccoli with oyster sauce" in a Chinese restaurant.

Bottled oyster-flavored sauce is a rich, concentrated mixture of oyster extractives, soy sauce, brine and assorted seasonings. The brown sauce is thick, salty, and strong. It is used sparingly to enhance the flavor of many dishes that have a long list of additional wet and aromatic ingredients.

Cooked oyster sauce is a mixture of various ingredients such as chicken broth, soy sauce, sake, rice wine, sherry, sesame oil, and sugar in addition to prepared oyster-flavored sauce. It is often thickened with cornstarch and tossed with a wide range of vegetables, beef, chicken, and seafood stir-fries.

Despite the fact that bottled oyster-flavored sauce is too strong to be a condiment, we thought it important to take note of each its raw, unadulterated flavor before we used it to make a cooked oyster sauce.

Tasting Bottled Oyster-Flavored Sauce

The potent sauce received the same standard comments—"salty," "biting," and "fishy." When we mixed the bottled oyster-flavored sauces with sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and freshly ground pepper and made simple stir-fries, the tasters were able to detect more flavors—perhaps a result of the bottled oyster-flavored sauces, but more likely in response to the cocktail of ingredients.

The Best Cooked Oyster Sauce

The most authentic cooked oyster sauce of the group was undoubtedly that which contained our winner. Admittedly intense and somewhat fishy, it was the only sauce with true depth of flavor. Its saltiness was balanced by sweet caramel undertones and the oyster flavor was strong. This sauce, however, is not for the faint of heart. One taster proclaimed, "My American taste buds can't take it." The other bottled oyster sauce didn't seem to add much to the cooked sauces. As one taster put it, the rest "may have well been soy sauce."

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.