If you are a fan of food from Japan, you may have already asked yourself: how to make eel sauce? Eel sauce sushi is one of the best dishes you will find in Japanese restaurants. Dishes that are drizzled in eel sauce are bestsellers, for a good reason: this barbecue sauce-like Japanese creation enhances flavors and allows different kinds of sushi preparations to shine. From crispy eel dishes to different sushi rolls, there’s something about eel sauce that makes it an excellent addition to most Japanese meals.
What Is Eel Sauce?
Eel sauce is a type of condiment used in many Japanese restaurants for a variety of dishes. It has a deep flavor that lends itself well to different sushi preparations. Unagi is the term for eel in Japanese, often grilled before being placed on steamed rice plates. The sauce is then drizzled generously over the plate to give flavor to the unagi and the rice. People who eat unagi regularly say that the experience isn’t the same without the sauce.
Why Is It Called Eel Sauce?
It is called eel sauce because it is primarily used for unagi dishes or dishes that consist of eel, rice, and other sides. There might be eel in it because of the name, but there isn’t. The name is related to what kind of food it best seasons, which is grilled fish. This sauce can also be used for a variety of other dishes. If you happen to have access to it, you can experiment with it because it has universal flavors that improve the taste of different kinds of cuisines, not just Japanese food.
What Does Eel Sauce Consist of? What is eel sauce made of?
Eel sauce is made of mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and sake. Sake is a type of authentic rice wine made from Japan.
This alcoholic beverage is made through the fermentation of rice. The rice has to be polished before being used for making the wine. The bran is removed. The process of creating rice wine is similar to the manufacturing process of beer. The natural fermentation of the starches in the wine eventually creates alcohol.
Mirin is yet another alcoholic component in unagi sauce that is very hard to place, flavor-wise, if you aren’t used to Japanese cooking. Many people say that Japanese food has flavors that are challenging to describe. The reason for this is the Japanese use many subtly and richly flavored ingredients in tandem to create genuinely unique flavor profiles.
One of these ingredients is mirin. Mirin is a sweeter type of wine that is commonplace in Japanese cooking. It is used for broths, grilled food, sushi, etc. Mirin is a sweet type of rice wine – it has a slightly higher sugar content than sake.
The alcohol content of mirin is also reduced, compared to sake – it only has 14% alcohol. If you are still confused about all these wines added to your food, think of the last time you ate teriyaki chicken or anything Japanese with a dark sauce. Chances are, the sweet sauce that you just had has some mirin in it.
Shoyu or Japanese soy sauce is the third component in making unagi sauce. While soy sauces are typical throughout Asia and the Western world, shoyu is notable because it has a slightly different manufacturing process than Chinese soy sauce.
The brewing time of shoyu is longer. It usually takes months to complete. They also use roasted wheat and a type of fungal culture called the koji.
Additional colorings are rarely added, so the light-dark color you see is as natural as possible.
Can you use sourer rice wines in place of mirin if you are cooking at home? You can, but you have to tweak the natural sourness of these other rice wines. Rice wines come in as many varieties as regular Western wines made with grapes.
The sourness can be so pronounced that you often have to half a teaspoon of white sugar for every teaspoon of sour rice wine. Keep this reminder if you want to create your unagi sauce at home but cannot obtain some mirin. Dry rice wine is often used as a substitute for mirin when there isn’t any available.
What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?
Eel sauce has been variously described as being sweet, tangy, and salty at the same time. It has a natural umami flavor that you will love without the MSG. Surprisingly enough, it does not contain an added dose of MSG because it already has natural umami. This is the great thing about sauces that are comprised of fermented ingredients. Eel sauce has a naturally thick consistency that makes it a perfect addition to various dishes. Use it on its own, or you can mix it with other seasonings to bring out its full potential.
How Do You Make Eel Sauce from Scratch?
Eel sauce ingredients for making homemade unagi sauce are 2/3 cup of white sugar, four teaspoons of fish stock or dashi (for additional flavoring), a cup of shoyu, a cup of mirin, half a cup of sake, half a tablespoon of plain cornstarch, and two tablespoons of water.
Combine the ingredients in a pot except for the soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then add the soy sauce. Allow the ingredients to cook and reduce for twenty minutes. Lower the heat. Combine the cornstarch and the water and create a slurry. Add the slurry to the bubbling unagi sauce. Stir the sauce continuously to incorporate the slurry well into the unagi sauce.
Remove the unagi sauce from the heat and allow it to cool down while you continue stirring. When the sauce is sufficiently cooled, pour the sauce into a bowl and serve.