Battle of the Black Sauces


Battle of the Black Sauces

Not all black sauces are created equal. Which of these is the king to rule them all?

| December 15, 2017

Battle of the Black Sauces

By 8List

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One truly uniquely Pinoy eating habit that we have is to have some type of sauce on the side whenever we eat. It’s hardwired into our DNA so much that we cannot bear to eat without some sort of condiment.

And it’s also inherent in us our deep love for dark sauces. As such, we sampled a few that are out there on the shelves. We tried to find out what sauce is the most versatile. We tested their effectiveness and flexibility as both a marinade and as dipping sauce.

Here are our results:

Hoisin Sauce

This thick and slightly pungent sauce is most commonly used as a glaze for meat. Indeed, as a marinade, it effectively enhances the meat’s flavor, although it tends to be on the salty side.

As a dipping sauce, it is quite tasty. However, because of its rough and thick texture, it is not suitable for all types of dishes.

Marinade meter: 7/10
Sauce meter: 5/10


Oyster Sauce

As its name implies, it is made from oyster extracts.  Although it has some similarity with the Hoisin sauce (especially the texture), the oyster sauce has no sweet taste to it; it’s all salty. And that can make it cloying.

As a marinade, the oyster sauce’s saltiness needs a lot of tempering down. You can add a bit of sugar to balance the flavors. As a dipping sauce, it’s not really on top of anyone’s mind. Although it can enhance the flavor of your instant pancit canton.

Marinade meter: 4/10
Sauce meter: 4/10


Worcestershire Sauce

Via Target

Wros…wersester…worch…this sauce is named after its chemist inventors who hailed from, you guessed it, Worcester. Because it is a bit on the vinegary side, it is effective as a marinade. But much like the oyster sauce, you will need other ingredients to temper its powerful vinegary flavor. Sure, as a sauce it’s almost always paired with steaks, but it was a hard sell for us to like it as a dip with our favorite ulam, fried chicken.

Marinade meter: 5/10
Sauce meter: 4/10


Soy Sauce

This by-product of fermented soybean paste has been a staple in Pinoy dishes. No doubt, the toyo is essential in marinades, but it has a very strong flavor. You cannot marinate meats with it on its own. Also, while the ever-reliable toyo is a favorite Pinoy sauce, it lacks versatility as a sauce to enhance the flavor of dishes. It is usually paired with other ingredients to further the flavors of dishes.

Marinade meter: 7/10
Sauce meter: 6/10