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What Is Lobster Sauce?

You may have found lobster sauce mentioned in a recipe or on a menu at a Chinese restaurant in America or Canada. Most likely served with shrimp, not lobster! So what is lobster sauce if it isn’t a sauce served with lobster? Well, it is a sauce that goes very well with seafood, though it doesn’t usually contain any seafood!

So, what is lobster sauce? Lobster sauce is a “white” sauce made from a meat stock base. While the method of preparation for lobster sauce varies, it often contains soy sauce, ginger, garlic, green onions, fermented black beans, pork mince, and eggs. The color actually varies from brown to yellow and white depending on the amount of soy sauce and other ingredients used. 

While lobster sauce is usually served with shrimp, it can also be served with crab!

So with this in mind, let’s learn more about how to use lobster sauce, its flavor profile, various recipes, and how it was invented.

What Is Lobster Sauce Made Of?

Lobster sauce, ironically, is not made with lobster. Instead, it is a stock-based sauce–usually, chicken stock is used. Other ingredients vary, but it tends to contain some form of starch to thicken it, eggs, sugar or molasses, garlic, pork mince, ginger, frozen vegetables (such as peas, though, of course, you could use fresh ones), green onions, Shaoxing wine or cooking sherry, fermented beans, and soy sauce. 

If you’re someone who eats seafood but not meat, you might be flabbergasted to find out that lobster sauce contains no lobster.

It does, on the other hand, often contain pork. And it’s usually served with shrimp. 

The story goes that some chef at a Chinese restaurant in North America figured out that while lobster tasted nice, it was expensive. 

So they went with shrimps instead. And created a sauce based on a Cantonese lobster sauce. 

Well, that sounds backward. 

They likely wanted to make lobster in lobster sauce the Cantonese way, only to realize that there weren’t a lot of lobsters to get hold of, and the ones they could get hold of were pricey. 

So they went with shrimp instead and prepared it with a sauce similar to the lobster sauce used in Cantonese cooking.  

Traditional ingredients used in lobster sauce include chicken stock and some starch to thicken the sauce, green onions, ginger, garlic, fermented beans, pork mince, Shaoxing wine or sherry, sugar or molasses, vegetables, and eggs. It’s a mild sauce. 

Lobster sauce is, generally speaking, quite light in color. However, in some places, such as New England, more soy sauce is used, making it browner in color. 

Recipe Option One for Lobster Sauce 

  • ⅓ lb of ground pork
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbsp of black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of molasses (optional)
  • Cornstarch, as needed for thickening 
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Two for Lobster Sauce 

  • ¼ lb. of ground pork
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • Pepper, to taste 
  • 1 tsp of cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp of fermented black beans
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 green onions (spring onions, scallions)
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sherry wine
  • 1 tsp of granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup of chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of oil for stir-frying

For full instructions, look here

Now, let’s move on to some recipes for shrimp with lobster sauce. 

Recipe Option One for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • 12 oz. (340 g) of raw large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1-inch (2 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup of chicken broth
  • ½ tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, Shaoxing wine
  • ¾ of a cup of store-bought frozen vegetables, peas, and carrots
  • 3 dashes of white pepper
  • ½ tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsps of cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Two for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • 8 oz. of shrimp (21″ size, or about 10 shrimp)
  • 4 oz. pf ground pork (110g)
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp of Shaoxing wine (or cooking sherry)
  • 1 ½ cups of low sodium chicken stock
  • ½ tsp of sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp of sugar
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • Fresh ground white pepper (to taste)
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 Tbsp water)
  • 1 egg (beaten slightly)
  • 1 scallion (chopped)

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Three for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • 1 ½ tsp of cornstarch 
  • 2 tsp of cooking sherry 
  • 1 Pound medium shrimp – peeled and deveined 
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • ¼ pound of ground pork 
  • 1 cup of water 
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce 
  • ¼ tsp of sugar 
  • ½ tsp of salt 
  • 1 ½ tbsp of cornstarch 
  • ¼ cup of cold water 
  • 1 egg, beaten

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Four for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • 1 ½ tsp of cornstarch 
  • 2 tsp of cooking sherry 
  • 1 pound of medium shrimp – peeled and deveined 
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • ¼ pound of ground pork 
  • 1 cup of water 
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce 
  • ¼ tsp of sugar 
  • ½ tsp of salt 
  • 1 ½ tbsp of cornstarch 
  • ¼ cup of cold water 
  • 1 egg, beaten

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Five for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • 1 lb. of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Marinade:
    • 1 ½ tsp of cornstarch
    • 2 tsp of michiu / rice cooking wine
    • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1-inch of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of frozen peas 
  • Cornstarch slurry
    • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
    • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • ½ tsp of white pepper
  • Salt as desired
  • Green onions, chopped

For full instructions, look here

If you prefer crabs to shrimp, you’re in luck–I found a recipe for crabs with lobster sauce.  

Recipe For Crabs With Lobster Sauce

  • ¼ pound of ground pork
  • 7 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 Chinese mushrooms, soaked, drained, and sliced
  • 6 hard-shell crabs, such as blue crabs
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of fermented black beans, soaked
  • About 2 tbsp of dry sherry
  • 1 tsp of thin soy sauce
  • ½ cup of pork stock
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • About 1 tbsp of Chinese toasted sesame oil

For full instructions, look here

What Does Lobster Sauce Taste Like?

Lobster sauce is usually made with chicken stock as a base and is gently flavored by ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and, sometimes, pork mince and Shaoxing wine or cooking sherry. It also often contains vegetables, such as peas. 

Lobster sauce is made with stock, usually chicken stock, so naturally, it’s flavored by the stock. 

It’s a very mild sauce, so while it’s usually flavored with green onions, garlic, soy sauce, and ginger, the flavors don’t overwhelm you. 

Not at all. At least not in the classic versions of the sauce.  

If pork mince is used in the sauce, naturally, it flavors it. However, pork mince is also a mild flavor. 

Likewise, if some frozen vegetables (or fresh, if you prefer) are added, they have a mild flavor. 

Normally peas are used as mixed vegetables, such as peas, corn, and carrots. 

What Do You Eat Lobster Sauce With?

Lobster sauce is traditionally served with shrimp. However, you’ll also find recipes serving crab with lobster sauce. 

Chinese restaurants in North America serve shrimp with lobster sauce. As the recipe is said to be based on recipes for Cantonese lobster sauce but changed around to be served with shrimp due to a lack of lobster, chances are it will taste good when served with lobster, too! 

You will find some recipes that call for crab with lobster sauce. One such recipe has been included above. 

What Is Similar To Lobster Sauce? 

Quite frankly, Chinese lobster sauce is fairly unique in the Western world. There is no sauce that is exactly similar in taste, though presumably, the original Cantonese lobster sauce had similar ingredients. 

You could argue that any chicken stock-based sauce that is thickened with starch is somewhat similar to lobster sauce. 

However, as the flavoring usually includes green onions, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce or fermented beans, it doesn’t taste similar to any kind of Western-style chicken stock-based sauce. 

What’s more, the eggs used in the sauce (if used) are prepared in a similar style to how you prepare eggs for egg-fried rice.

In other words, they add texture to the sauce; they aren’t used to thickening it. Adding eggs to a sauce in this manner is pretty much unheard of in Western cooking. 

Finally

Chinese lobster sauce that’s found in Chinese restaurants in North America. 

It won’t be found in any restaurants in China as it was invented by Chinese chefs in America when they were planning to serve Cantonese-style lobster but realized there was a short (and expensive) supply of lobster and opted for shrimp instead. 

However, the sauce remained inspired by the original Cantonese lobster sauce. 

At least, that’s how the story goes. 

Shrimp with lobster sauce is a well-loved dish all over America. It’s a mild meal flavored with Asian ingredients. 

It’s a great dish if you’d like to try a sauce that has Asian flavors but isn’t strong.