Lightly smoky and full of umami, Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base used in a multitude of noodle dishes. You can easily make it at home with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
Mentsuyu (めんつゆ), or sometimes called Tsuyu (つゆ), is a Japanese soup base commonly used in soba and udon noodle dishes. Made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), the flavor is delicate yet intensely savory.
What is Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) for?
In Japan, we use Mentsuyu as a basic sauce or broth to flavor everything from noodle dishes, rice bowls, hot pots to tempura dipping sauce.
The multipurpose sauce gets a real depth of flavor and smokiness from the use of kombu and bonito flakes. As it happens, these two ingredients are the elementary components to make dashi – the Japanese soup stock that characterize the distinct flavor of Japanese food.
In this recipe, soy sauce contributes to the savory tones, and mirin imparts sweetness that ties everything together.
Making Mentsuyu at home is as easy as combining all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer down to a concentrated sauce. You can store it in a mason jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. The sauce will come in handy when you need it to season your favorite noodle dishes.
When ready to use, you just need to thin it out with water! The ratios of Mentsuyu to water will differ depending on the recipes.
Hot Noodle Soup
To use Mentsuyu in a hot noodle soup, dilute it with water, heat it up, then pour over boiled noodles. This hot noodle soup broth is called Kaketsuyu (かけつゆ).
Cold Noodle Dipping Sauce
The Mentsuyu is diluted with water (sometimes no need to dilute), then serve with chilled noodles. This dipping sauce is called Tsuketsuyu (つけつゆ).
Watch How to Make Mentsuyu (Noodle Soup Base)
Homemade Mentsuyu recipe made with sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base used in soba and udon noodle dishes.
Store-Bought Mentsuyu Bottles
For convenience, you can purchase pre-made Mentsuyu from Japanese (or Asian) grocery stores or online.
Each brand has different instructions for diluting the Metsuyu. Find the usage guide on the bottle that looks like this. You can learn more about the Ratio of Tsuyu to Water on this page.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Homemade Mentsuyu (Japanese Soup Base for Noodles)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Add sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let cool.
- Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (reserve the kombu and katsuobushi - see below). This mentsuyu is concentrated.
To Use Mentsuyu
- Follow the noodle recipe instruction.
- You can store Mentsuyu in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.
What to do with leftover Katsuobushi and kombu?
- Use the leftover katsuobushi and kombu to make Homemade Furikake Rice Seasoning. You can also save the drained katsuobushi and kombu in the freezer until you're ready to make Furikake.
You can also use Mentsuyu in these recipes: