Cubes of fermented bean curds on a plate.
The Vegetarian Ingredient That's An Ideal Substitute For Oyster Sauce
By Grace Allison
Oyster sauce is rich, tangy, and exceptionally savory, but if you're a vegetarian or are allergic to oyster sauce, fermented bean curd is a worthy substitute.
Also known as fǔrǔ, or Chinese cheese, fermented bean curd typically includes garlic, chili, wine, and vegetables, creating a meaty flavor similar to that of oyster sauce.
Fermented bean curds also have a unique appearance and fantastic layers of flavor that brighten and intensify the aromas in a dish.
Double-check the ingredients list on the jar to ensure they're entirely vegetarian, as it's common for rice wine to be filtered through isinglass (fish bladder) or albumen (egg).
There are plenty of varieties of fǔrǔ, from sesame oil to chili-fermented variations. However, the most common versions are red and a milder white.
White fermented bean curd is regarded as a plain version of fǔrǔ and is traditionally used as seasoning for congee or spread on fluffy and soft Chinese steamed buns.
The red type is made with red yeast rice, which gives it a dazzlingly vibrant red and purple color. It has a robust flavor that goes great with marinades and sauces.