Eel Sauce

Eel sauce recipe - eel with eel sauce on top of rice
The Spruce / Pete Scherer
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
78 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 78
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 876mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 73mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spoiler alert: eel sauce does not contain eel. Though this sauce is based on a Japanese sauce known as nitsume, which does contain eel broth, the sauce has been Americanized over time as Japanese cuisine has spread throughout the United States. This recipe is for the sauce that often accompanies Japanese grilled eel known as unagi, as well as probably half the fancy rolls that are the staple of many American sushi joints. The sauce is thick, sticky, salty, sweet, and deeply umami. You may have licked it off a plate once or twice before.

Easy to make, eel sauce is a simple reduction of only four ingredients: sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce. Easy to use, its flavor will enhance not only eel and sushi rolls; but a wide variety of other foods, as well. Try it on everything from chicken wings to grilled eggplant and from beef to deep-fried tofu. We've even seen it drizzled on popcorn and eaten with a spoon.

Due to its sugar and salt content, the sauce keeps quite well, so don’t be afraid to make too much. You can even freeze it. Because of its depth of flavor and versatility, it’s a great sauce to have on hand to quickly dress up a simple dish.

One popular use of eel sauce is pictured here: an eel bowl, or unagi don. Though it may look somewhat intimidating at first glance, barbecued eel filet is readily available in the freezer section of many Asian grocery stores. Simply thaw, heat quickly in the broiler, place over a bowl of steamed rice, and drizzle with your homemade eel sauce. It’s a simple, flavorful dish that’s easy to make any night of the week or for a quick lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mirin

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sake, or Japanese rice wine

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add the mirin, soy sauce, sake, and granulated sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat.

  3. Stir the mixture intermittently and bring the sauce to a low boil.

  4. Reduce the liquid by approximately one-third. Remember, it will thicken as it cools. Test a small amount on a plate as you might test jam, by placing a small amount on a plate and seeing if you can draw a line through the sauce. If the line holds, the sauce is reduced enough. At room temperature, it should have the consistency of honey.

  5. When you’ve arrived at the proper consistency, remove from heat. Cool somewhat, and use it as desired, storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tips

  • If the sauce comes out too thin, reduce it a bit more.
  • If you accidentally over-reduce it, simply add water a little at a time until the proper consistency is restored. Remember that it will thin a bit when heated.


How to Store and Freeze

  • Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Eel sauce can be frozen for up to three months. After it has cooled down, simply place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and put the sauce in the freezer.