Quick and Versatile Japanese Spicy Onion Sauce

Japanese Spicy Onion Sauce (Tare)
Spicy Onion Sauce. Photo Credit: © Judy Ung
Ratings (5)
  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1/4 cup (4 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
75 Calories
4g Fat
9g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1/4 cup (4 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 75
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 998mg 43%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 2g
Calcium 16mg 1%
*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.)

Easily broaden your Japanese cooking repertoire by adding a few different sauces into your rotation. A quick sauce can easily change an ordinary seafood or protein dish into a meal that suddenly seems more, for lack of a better word, fancy! 

We are all familiar with Japanese condiments such as soy sauce or tonkatsu sauce which instantly adds flavor to fish or protein that's been simply cooked with salt and pepper, but honestly, our taste buds appreciate a bit of variety occasionally.

If you enjoy onions, try this recipe for Japanese spicy onion sauce, and you won't be disappointed. It's savory, with a soy sauce (shoyu) base, and sweet onions, but its flavor is more complex with the addition of oyster sauce and chili garlic paste. 

What makes this sauce appealing is that it's quite quick and easy to make, in particular, because it uses oyster sauce and chili garlic paste, both of which are bottled and available for purchase at Japanese or other Asian grocery stores. Both of these sauces are worth adding to your list of essential ingredients to keep in the refrigerator.

This sauce takes about 10 minutes to prepare and begins with sauteed sweet onions in sesame oil, then the addition of flavor enhancing ingredients. The soy sauce and sugar are added last so that the soy sauce does not reduce and become salty. Depending on your preference, add more or less sugar to create a savory sweet sauce. I prefer a savory sauce and therefore used only a hint of sugar in the recipe below.​

Only a small amount of the sauce is needed to season your seafood or protein. The onion sauce may be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days or stored in the freezer in small ice cube portions for future use.


  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (or regular yellow onion)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili garlic paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce​
  • 3 teaspoons white sugar (granulated; add more to taste if desired)

Steps to Make It

  1.  Dice half an onion into small pieces. Set aside.

  2. In a small saute pan, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat until hot.

  3. Add chopped onions and saute with sesame oil until translucent. Continue to cook the onion another 3 to 4 minutes until soft and tender.

  4. Add chili garlic paste, oyster sauce, and sake. Mix until incorporated. Add soy sauce and sugar, to taste. Be sure to stir constantly. The sauce will begin to thicken slightly.

  5. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. 

  6. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days.