Sweet, savory, and full of flavor, this delicious Homemade Eel Sauce is the dream sauce for unagi and BBQ dishes!
Have you tried grilled unagi (eel) or unagi sushi before? What is that caramelized sweet, salty sauce that goes with the unagi? Well, the irresistible golden brown sauce is basically called the Eel Sauce or Unagi Sauce (うなぎのたれ).
What is Eel Sauce
Eel sauce is called Unagi no Tare (うなぎのたれ) in Japanese, and it is a thick and sweetened soy sauce.
Traditionally, it is commonly used on grilled eel or different dishes that feature grilled eel such as unagi don (Unadon/Unaju) or unagi sushi. Although there are many commercial brands of the sauce available in the market, the best eel sauce is the one you make at home.
How to Make Eel Sauce At Home
To make this sauce at home is as simple as one can imagine. You only need 4 ingredients – sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce – to create a rich, umami-packed eel sauce. Combine the mixture in a small pot and let it simmer over the stove until the sauce caramelizes and thickens to your desired richness.
The great thing about making the sauce at home instead of buying the pre-made stuff is you can decide on the sweetness and saltiness level. And there are no additives in the ingredients.
Can Unagi Sauce Be Gluten-Free?
Yes! Use Gluten-Free Soy Sauce to make the gluten-free version of the sauce!
What is Eel Sauce Used for?
Aside from regular unagi dishes, unagi sauce is finger-licking delicious on any BBQ dishes. Think grilled meat, grilled fish, grilled tofu, grilled mushrooms, and grilled rice ball (Yaki Onigiri). All you need is a light brush or a drizzle of this sweet-savory sauce to heighten the flavor of the dish. In addition, you can use the eel sauce as a marinade for meats or as a dressing for freshly cooked noodles.
If you’re looking for a new flavor to add to your grill menus this year, you want to try out this recipe! It is absolutely one of my favorite sauces to make in the summer.
Where to Buy Eel Sauce (Unagi Sauce)
If you want to skip making homemade sauce, you can purchase the bottled one at the condiment section of Japanese grocery stores. You may also find it in well-stocked Asian grocery stores. If that’s not an option, get on Amazon.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Homemade Eel Sauce (Unagi Sauce)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- In a small saucepan, add the mirin, sake, and sugar. Turn on the heat to medium and whisk all the ingredients together.
- Then, add the soy sauce and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Toward the end of cooking, you will see more bubbles.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It's now ready to use.
- You can store the sauce in an airtight jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.
Editor’s Note: The post is originally published on May 6, 2013. The new images have been added to the post in May 2019.