This delicious "Tsuyu" sauce will add extra umami flavour to your Japanese cooking and is great for noodles and soups. I always have a giant bottle of it in my fridge, but it can be hard to find if you live abroad! Luckily, I have a simple recipe which means you can make it yourself, it's also suitable for vegans!
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What is "tsuyu"?
Tsuyu is a versatile sauce used in many Japanese dishes. It has a dashi base and is packed with umami. If your cooking is lacking "umami", this sauce will certainly help!
Tsuyu has a perfect balance of savory and sweet. It is made using:
To be honest, Japanese people don't really make tsuyu sauce from scratch. It's readily available in supermarkets and I always have a bottle of Ninben Tsuyu sauce (affiliate link) in my fridge. It's easy to make from scratch though!
Recipes that use Tsuyu
I often use tsuyu in my cooking, it has a more complex flavour than soy sauce alone. Here are some popular recipes that use tsuyu!
- Gyuudon beef rice bowl
- Oyakodon chicken and egg rice bowl
- Devil's onigiri an addictive rice ball with nori, tempura batter and tsuyu
- Tantanmen ramen ramen noodles served in a spicy sesame broth
As you can see, I use this tsuyu sauce in many of our recipes, you can click here to see more recipes that use it. It's definitely a useful recipe to know!
Tsuyu uses one of the following dashi (a broth used to create depth of flavour)
- Kombu (dried kelp / seaweed)
- Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
- Awase (a mixture of kombu and katsuobushi)
- Vegan Awase ( a mixture of kombu and shiitake mushroom)
These ingredients are commonly used in Japanese cooking and should be available in Japanese food stores or possibly Asian supermarkets.
Dashi is usually made by boiling or steeping these ingredients in water, but for this tsuyu recipe we're going to skip the water and make a concentrated sauce using soy sauce and mirin.
Tsuyu is made in a concentrated form for easy storage. You can mix it with water when you're using it, I've written the ratios of tsuyu to water for each usage below.
In this recipe, we'll be using dried shiitake mushrooms as they are the most easily accessible in other countries. If you can't find them then you can try with other kinds of dried mushrooms (but I can't guarantee the taste!)
This recipe only uses 4 ingredients and they are all suitable for vegetarians and vegans, so enjoy!
How to use Tsuyu (water ratio)
As tsuyu is a concentrated sauce, there are different ways to use it.
- Pour a small amount directly onto rice (common in donburi rice bowl dishes)
- Pouring onto noodles (1 part tsuyu, 1 part water)
- Dipping noodles (1 part tsuyu, 2 parts water)
- For boiling (1 part tsuyu, 3-4 parts water)
- For hot pots or "oden" (1 part tsuyu, 4-6 parts water)
Once you've made this sauce, you don't need to use it all at once. You can keep it in a bottle in the fridge for about one month. If you use it often then you can double or triple the recipe.
Tsuyu, also known as "mentsuyu" or "hon tsuyu", is a sauce that is most commonly used for noodle dishes such as soba noodles or thick udon noodles. It can be used to make a soup/broth or be used as a dipping sauce. It also has various uses for stewed dishes in Japan such as "nikujaga".
It's similar to soy sauce (as it contains soy sauce) but it's sweeter and has more depth of flavour/umami.
Tsuyu sauce contains dashi, and dashi is most commonly made using bonito flakes called "katsuobushi". If it contains katsuobushi, that means it contains fish and isn't suitable for vegetarians or vegans. My recipe uses only kombu (kelp) and dried shiitake mushrooms so it's suitable for vegans.