This eel sauce is sweet, salty, sticky, and needs just 3 ingredients! Also known as unagi sauce, it’s a must have addition to unagi, it’s also great as a dipping sauce or condiment!
If you’ve made my unagi or unagi sushi before, you will be familiar with unagi sauce. It’s the reason both dishes taste incredible and are so versatile, you’ll be adding it to everything!
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What is eel sauce?
Also known as Unagi No Tare and Nitsume, eel sauce is a sweet, sticky, and umami sauce. Essentially, it’s almost like a thicker soy sauce.
It’s an essential ingredient to any dishes involving Unagi (eel) but is also popular with sushi, gyoza, and beef negimaki.
While there are commercial brands you can buy at grocery stores, it is so much easier and tastier to make at home! It needs just 3 ingredients and takes minutes to make.
Eel sauce ingredients
As mentioned earlier, you only need 3 ingredients to make this unagi sauce. If you’ve made any of my other Japanese recipes before, you probably have everything on hand. Here is what you’ll need:
- Soy sauce. Use a good quality soy sauce brand as it makes all the difference. We like the traditional Kikkoman brand, which also comes with a gluten-free option.
- Sugar. White sugar is preferred, but brown will also work.
- Mirin. A Japanese cooking alcohol that is on the sweeter side and works well in many Japanese sauces and marinades. If you don’t have mirin, dry sherry will work. If you’d like to have an alcohol-free option, try rice vinegar and add an extra teaspoon of sugar.
How to make eel sauce
Simple is an understatement to make this unagi sauce recipe. It follows a simple 2-step process and is so delicious!
Heat ingredients: Start by adding all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for a further 4-5 minutes, or until it has thickened up.
Let it thicken: Now, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it reach room temperature. Give it a stir and use it immediately or store it to use later.
Tips to make the best recipe
- You must let the sauce simmer until it reduces significantly, or else it won’t be as sticky or thick.
- If you would prefer a thicker sauce, add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Be sure to whisk it well very into the mixture or else clumps will show up.
- Feel free to add spices or herbs like red pepper flakes, minced garlic, or ginger.
What else to use unagi sauce
The beauty of this sauce is just how versatile it is. Because it has characteristics similar to BBQ sauce, you can use it in a plethora of ways. Here are some ideas:
- As a marinade. Brush over some chicken breast, pork chops, or any protein of choice.
- In a stir-fry. Add a punch of flavor to your usual stir-fries by stirring through some of the sauce at the end of the cooking process.
- To dip appetizers in. While ketchup and BBQ sauce are great, change things up and give your taste buds something extra delicious to dip your snacks in!
- As a pizza sauce. For those of you who love BBQ chicken pizza or meat lovers, swap out the standard sauce for this, and your taste buds will thank you.
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one week. Be sure to stir it before using it, as there may be a little separation.
To freeze: Place the sauce in a glass jar and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
More umami-forward sauces to try
Frequently Asked Questions
No, unagi sauce and soy sauce have two different flavors. The former has a sweeter and more umami hit.
There is no eel flavor or actual eel in the sauce whatsoever. Its name comes from its addition to unagi.
Eel Sauce (3 Ingredients)
- Add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove the saucepan off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Once cool, transfer it into a shallow container or sterilized jar until ready to use.
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