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The History of Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce was invented by accident. In 1888, a restauranteur from Southern China named Lee Kum Sheung was boiling a pot of oyster soup and forgot about it until the soup had simmered down into a thick gravy. He tasted his accidental creation and discovered that it was intensely flavorful! He decided to start selling his new product, oyster sauce, and it quickly became a staple in Chinese cooking. Lee Kum Sheung’s accidental discovery and successful marketing efforts gave rise to the Lee Kum Kee brand of premade Chinese sauces, which remains massively popular today. In fact, the company’s oyster sauce is now available on grocery store shelves in over 100 different countries! The brand even makes a vegetarian version of their famous oyster sauce. Many other brands now also make their own version of Lee Kum Sheung’s accidental invention. Today, the condiment is considered a staple in Chinese cooking and it plays a key role in many Chinese dishes, as it is well-known for its distinct, umami-rich flavor.

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