Unagi Sauce, or Eel Sauce, is a popular thick, sweet, savory Japanese condiment. Traditionally used on grilled eel (unagi), it is also used on sushi and other dishes. Make it homemade from scratch in minutes with just 4 ingredients!
This Unagi sauce recipe makes a reduced, sweet, and savory homemade eel sauce that's great on many Japanese dishes. It is easy to make from scratch using just four simple ingredients.
If you've ever had sushi or other types of traditional Japanese dishes, you know that the sauce elevates the flavor of the dish.
While there are many types of Japanese sauces, one of the most popular is unagi no tare sauce.
What is unagi sauce? It is a thick, sweet, and savory Japanese sauce made from soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake.
And while the name unagi directly translates to "eel," there is actually no eel used in the sauce!
So what makes this eel sauce so special? The combination of sweet and savory flavors makes it the perfect topping for sushi, sashimi, tempura, and more.
Plus, it's really easy to make at home from scratch using just four simple ingredients!
Why Make This Recipe
- Homemade Unagi Sauce is great to have on hand if you enjoy Japanese food.
- Making it from scratch means there are no preservatives or excess sugar.
- You can adjust the ingredients according to your taste preferences.
- The ingredients can be found in most grocery stores in the international section.
- Mirin - This classic Japanese condiment is a sweet rice wine that is essential for many Japanese dishes. You can find it in the international section of most grocery stores.
- Soy Sauce - A common ingredient in Asian cuisine, soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and wheat. It adds a salty flavor to dishes.
- Sake - Sake is a Japanese rice wine that has a light and slightly sweet flavor and is often consumed with sushi.
- Sugar - Sugar is added to balance out the salty and sour flavors of the other ingredients.
Please scroll down to the recipe card below for the full quantities.
Wondering how to make this homemade Unagi Sauce recipe? It's easy!
Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Combine the sauce base: To a small pot, add the mirin, sake, and sugar. Whisk to combine, then bring the mixture to a boil fully.
Add the soy sauce: Once the mixture is boiling, turn it down to a simmer, then whisk in the soy sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Thicken and cool: Let the sauce thicken as it cools, then store it in a glass jar or sealed container in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
The sauce will thicken as it cools, so don't worry if it looks a bit runny when you first take it off the heat.
If you want a thinner sauce, add a little water until you reach your desired consistency.
For a gluten-free version of this recipe, use tamari instead of soy sauce. Double-check that all other ingredients are gluten-free.
Let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to a glass jar or storage container.
This recipe for Unagi sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Instead of granulated white sugar, you can also use brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
How To Use Homemade Unagi Sauce
- Sushi Rolls: Use eel sauce as a dipping sauce or drizzle it over your favorite sushi rolls.
- Sashimi: Drizzle it over fresh sashimi for an added flavor boost.
- Tempura: Serve tempura with a side of this sauce for dipping.
- Noodles: Toss cooked noodles with unagi sauce for a quick and easy meal.
- Rice: Mix it into cooked rice for a delicious and easy side dish.
Storage & Freezing
Once cooled, store the sauce in a glass jar or sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
You can freeze eel sauce for up to three months in ice cube trays. When you're ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge overnight and stir before using it.
Although the name unagi sauce translates to "eel," there is actually no eel used in the sauce! The name is thought to come from the fact that unagi (freshwater eel) is often served with this sweet and savory sauce.
Unagi sauce is sweet, salty, and slightly sour with a thick and syrupy consistency. It's often used as a dipping sauce for sushi or sashimi or as a topping for rice dishes.
Unagi sauce and teriyaki sauce are similar in that they are both sweet and savory sauces used in Japanese cuisine. However, unagi sauce is made with mirin (a sweet rice wine), sake, soy sauce, and sugar while teriyaki sauce is made with soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sometimes ginger.
- Small Pot
- ⅓ cup mirin
- 4 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons sake
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- Stir the mirin, sugar and sake together in a small pot and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, stir in the soy sauce and allow the unagi sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. It will thicken slightly, and will thicken further as it cools.
- Allow to cool and store in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.