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.
What is Tsuyu?
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".
What does Tsuyu taste like?
It's similar to soy sauce (as it contains soy sauce) but it's sweeter and has more depth of flavour/umami.
Is Tsuyu sauce vegan?
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.
Tsuyu Sauce from Scratch
- Total Time: 12 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 200ml
How to make 200ml of versatile Japanese Tsuyu Sauce from scratch. Great for adding umami flavour to noodles, broths and sauces.
See note if you want to add kombu for extra umami.
- Pour the mirin into the saucepan and heat on medium/high.
- Bring it to the boil and continue to heat for 30 seconds.
- Add the soy sauce and sugar and boil for a further 30 seconds.
- Leave to cool.
- Once cooled, pour into a jar or sealable container and add the mushrooms.
- Keep in the refrigerator over night before using.
- The next day, take out the mushroom and store once again in the refrigerator for up to one month.
- Use for broths, sauces and on rice!
This recipe is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
This sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.
See the post above on how to use tsuyu and how much water to mix for different dishes/uses.
Shiitake mushrooms should not be boiled, as it can create a bitter taste. Once cooled you simply strain the sauce and store in the refrigerator over night.
If you want to try making tsuyu with kombu, simply add the kombu with the mushrooms and soak overnight. The next day, remove the mushrooms and heat the tsuyu sauce until almost boiling. Cool once again, remove the kombu and return to the fridge.
The prep time in the recipe is the cooling down time.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Soaking: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Boiling
- Cuisine: Japanese
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