Japanese Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Pouring Ponzu sauce onto Plate
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  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1/4 cup (4 servings)

Japanese ponzu sauce is a condiment and ingredient based on soy sauce with both a citrus and savory flavor. You can make your own ponzu rather than seeking it out at the grocery store or international market. Ponzu has the umami element as well as sweet, salt, and sour flavor elements.

You can substitute lime juice for the traditional yuzu juice in this Japanese ponzu sauce. Ponzu can be used in many different ways. It's often used as a condiment or dipping sauce. It can be used as a marinade and may serve both of those purposes for chicken yakitori. Just keep in mind that you should discard the marinade used for the raw chicken and only serve untouched ponzu as the dipping sauce.

This recipe appears in Asian Grilling, by Su-Mei Yu, reprinted with permission.

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons bonito flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh yuzu (or lime juice or more to taste)

How to Make It

  1. Combine the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Pour the sauce through a strainer into a bowl and discard the bonito flakes.
  4. Add the lime or yuzu juice.
  5. Serve, or store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to three days. Add more lime juice if needed before serving.

Tips and Variations

You can also freeze ponzu to use later.

One easy method is to freeze any you won't use immediately in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop out the cubes and keep them in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer. Then when you want ponzu to use in a recipe, simply thaw the amount you wish to use.

This sauce also complements traditional Japanese steamed or grilled fish or shrimp dishes. A drizzle of ponzu on sashimi or hiyayakko is also favored. It is often used as a dipping sauce for shabu shabu hot pots or for teppanyaki grilled meat, seafood, and vegetables.

Another use of ponzu is as a salad dressing. If you are making a simple green salad or a cold noodle salad to accompany other Japanese dishes, use ponzu as the dressing as is, or add it in a two to one ratio to oil, such as 1/2 cup ponzu to 1/4 cup oil.

If you use ponzu as a marinade for chicken, don't marinate it longer than six hours. Fish should only be marinated for 30 minutes to an hour.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
52 Calories
1g Fat
2g Carbs
7g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)