Sweet, savory, and full of flavor, this Homemade Eel Sauce is the dream sauce for unagi and BBQ!
Have you tried grilled unagi (eel) before? What is that caramelized sweet, salty sauce that goes with unagi? Well, the irresistible dark brown sauce is Eel Sauce or Unagi Sauce (うなぎのたれ).
Table of contents
What Is Eel Sauce
Eel sauce is Unagi no Tare (うなぎのたれ) in Japanese, and it is a thick and sweetened soy sauce. Traditionally, it is used on grilled eel or dishes that feature grilled eel, such as unagi don or unagi sushi and doesn’t contain eel. Although many commercial sauce brands are available, the best eel sauce is the homemade version.
What Does It Taste Like
It tastes savory-sweet from the sake, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
How to Make Eel Sauce
Making this sauce at home is as simple as one can imagine. You only need four ingredients – sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce, to create a rich, umami-packed sauce. Combine the mixture in a small pot and let it simmer until the sauce caramelizes and thickens to your desired richness.
The great thing about making the sauce instead of buying the bottled variety is you can decide on the balance of sweet and salty. Plus, there are no additives or preservatives.
Make Gluten-free Eel Sauce
Yes! Use Gluten-Free Soy Sauce to make the gluten-free version of the sauce!
How To Use
Aside from regular unagi dishes, unagi sauce is finger-licking delicious on BBQ. Think grilled meat, fish, tofu, mushrooms, and onigiri. All you need is a light brush or a drizzle of this sweet-savory sauce to heighten the flavor. In addition, you can use it as a marinade for meats or as a dressing for noodles.
If you’re looking for a new flavor to add to your grill menus this year, try out this recipe! It is one of my favorite for summer cooking.
Where To Buy
You can purchase the bottled variety in the condiment section of Japanese grocery stores and well-stocked Asian supermarkets. If that’s not an option, find it 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. See Notes for the full amount of the unagi sauce.
- 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.
For the full amount Unagi Sauce (extra will keep for 3 months)
- ¾ cup (180 ml) soy sauce
- ¾ cup (180 ml) mirin
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) sake
Editor’s Note: The post is originally published on May 6, 2013. The new images have been added to the post in May 2019.