Food & Drink

What's that oyster sauce in your pantry good for?

Poached Salmon Soup With Udon and Mushrooms
Poached Salmon Soup With Udon and Mushrooms Dixie D. Vereen/The Washington Post

With weeks of holiday eating ahead, this soup will be good to you: It's light and quick, yet there's enough in it to satisfy. It comes from “The Gourmet Kitchen,”" the new cookbook from food blogger Jennifer Farley.

Don't let the “gourmet” in the title worry you.

“For me, it's not about being complicated,” she says. “It's about applying techniques I learned in culinary school to cooking at home – amplifying flavor with a few key ingredients.”

The oyster sauce in this recipe is a good example. Farley says it's sweet and adds umami, yet it is surprisingly neutral: “You wouldn't necessarily get the same Asian notes you might expect to get from adding, say, toasted sesame oil.” (Not all oyster sauce – sometimes called oyster-flavored sauce – contains actual oyster extracts, but sauces from bottles labeled either way can taste pretty similar.)

Asian noodles and rice dishes are where she most often adds oyster sauce, but Farley says we should think beyond that realm as well. So try adding a dash to vegetables in a saute pan, or at the start of a pan sauce for steak or chicken.

Poached Salmon Soup With Udon and Mushrooms

Adapted from “The Gourmet Kitchen,” by Jennifer Farley (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

8 ounces dried udon noodles (may substitute ramen or soba noodles)

1 clove garlic

4 ounces cremini or button mushrooms

2 green onions

8 ounces skinned salmon fillet

2 tablespoons white miso

1 cup boiling water

2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the udon noodles and cook according to the package directions. Drain. Bring a cup of water to boil in a small pan or kettle.

Meanwhile, smash and peel the garlic. Brush off or clean the mushrooms, then trim or stem them, as needed. Cut into thin slices. Cut the white and light-green parts of the green onions into thin slices. Cut the salmon into 1-inch cubes.

Dissolve the miso in the cup of boiling water; pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the broth, garlic, oyster sauce and rice vinegar. Once the mixture starts bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and salmon; cook 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the green onion, toasted sesame oil and the cooked udon noodles. Discard the garlic. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving (based on 3): 410 calories, 28 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 1,380 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

Yield: 2 or 3 servings