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12 Easy Japanese Sauces for Sushi

You can’t have sushi without a delicious dipping or coating sauce. Like the beautiful pairings of salmon sauces and chicken sauces, sushi needs that perfect sauce to match it. But which to use? Well, the flavors of Japan will pair perfectly with their cuisine, so I’ve pulled the best Japanese sauces for sushi.

The best Japanese sauces you can use with sushi are ponzu sauce, eel sauce, wasabi sauce, miso sauce, and Sudachi sauce. But these aren’t the only Japanese sushi sauces you can use, so let’s dive right in!

📌 Types of Sushi

Nigiri: A hand-pressed mound of sushi rice topped with a slice of fresh fish or seafood, often served with a dab of wasabi.

Maki: Sushi rice and various ingredients, such as fish, vegetables, or seafood, rolled in seaweed and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Sashimi: Thinly sliced raw fish or seafood, served without rice and often accompanied by pickled ginger and wasabi.

Temaki: A cone-shaped hand roll filled with sushi rice, fish, vegetables, and other ingredients, wrapped in seaweed.

Chirashi: Sushi rice topped with an assortment of sashimi, vegetables, and other ingredients, served in a bowl.

💡Classic Japanese Sushi Sauces

Shoyu

Sushi and shoyu go hand in hand. I mean, you won’t find a sushi bar or sushi dish without it. The salty dip is one of the easiest and most convenient Japanese sushi sauces around, coating it in a sheen of flavor once dipped. It’s the perfect umami-rich sauce for any type of sushi, with delicious sweet undertones to sweeten the deal. You can even use light soy sauce alternatives and dark soy sauce substitutes for something more similar.

Gari (Pickled Ginger)

While not one of the tastiest Japanese sauces for sushi, it’s a definite must when eating them. Gari (pickled ginger) is a blend of thinly sliced young ginger pickled in sweet vinegar. They only really serve as a palate cleanser between sushi pieces, giving you a refreshing and slightly pungent taste. The refreshing cleanse helps prepare the taste buds for the next piece of sushi. Pairing it with another delicious Japanese sauce for sushi is the best way to use this sauce.

Wasabi Sauce

Now, here’s a Japanese sushi sauce with a notorious kick and pungent taste. Wasabi sauce is the sauce to pair with sushi. You can’t get any more spicy and delicious than a heat-packed wasabi root, soy sauce, and mayonnaise blendIt’s creamy and thick consistency is just perfect for dipping maki sushi roles in.

Ponzu Sauce

Consider ponzu sauce as the sweet and tangy cousin of soy sauce. It combines the classic flavors of the rich umami king with a blend of soy sauce, citrus juice like yuzu, rice vinegar, mirin, and dashi. The sauce will give you that perfect citrus punch while infusing the sushi with sweet and sour goodness. There are also several substitutes for ponzu you can try using instead if you prefer similar flavors.

Miso Sauce

There’s nothing quite better than the umami richness of a classic miso sauce. This delicious Japanese sauce is a must for any sushi lover. The tasty, savory, and slightly sweet flavor comes from its perfect fermented soybean paste, mirin, sugar, and dashi blend. You swap out the miso with various miso paste substitutes for alternate flavor and texture. 

Yuzu Soy Sauce

The delicious sweet and tart flavors of the prized yuzu fruit are fused with the umami richness of soy sauce to create a truly tasty little sauce. Yuzu soy sauce is one of the easiest Japanese sauces for sushi to make. It combines the best rich umami and citrusy flavors of soy sauce and yuzu citrus juice. Unbeatable flavor in a tiny little sauce.

Sesame Sauce

Sesame sauce is one of the tastiest Japanese sauces for sushi you can make. The nuttiness, the rich sweetness, and the smooth creamy texture just oozes flavor. A blend of sesame paste, soy sauce, sugar or honey, rice vinegar, and garlic or ginger create this fantastic flavorful sauce. You can even make a delicious tahini sauce version with a lighter, less nuttier taste.

Yum Yum Sauce

The name alone should tell you how perfect this Japanese sauce for sushi is. A classic yum yum sauce will give you all the creaminess, sweetness, and tanginess you can ask for. This flavor packed combo comes from its mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic powder, and paprika blend. You can even mix this sauce into some other tasty options on the list for an even better flavor experience.

Spicy Mayo Sauce

A classic Japanese spicy mayo sauce is exactly what every sushi dish needs. If the flavors of wasabi are a bit to much, you can try this delicious creamy and spicy alternative. This delicious sriracha mayo packs all the rich creaminess and spicy flavor you need with a mayonnaise, sriracha hot sauce, and other spices like paprika. You can even make it with kewpie mayo and yum yum sauce.

Eel Sauce

The delicious thick flavor and savory sweet goodness a classic eel sauce gives sushi is unmatched. Also known as unagi sauce, this sweet style soy sauce is a rich and thick reduction of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. A truly simple blend that every Japanese sushi sauce needs. There are also some sweet soy sauce substitutes that can stand in for this sauce.

Nikiri Sauce

Nikiri sauce is a fantastic sauce you can use to brush on top of nigiri sushi to create a glossy and delicious finish! The simple blend of soy sauce, mirin, and sake makes for a truly tasty glaze combination. You don’t even have to brush this on sushi, as you can just dip it in a enjoy all the flavor.

Sudachi Sauce

This is a another delicious citrus fruit sauce you can make! Just like yuzu, Sudachi sauce has a fantastic zing to it thanks to the simple blend of Sudachi citrus juice, soy sauce, and mirin. The many different flavors and ingredient combinations you can use are why it’s the perfect sauce to use for sushi. Just a small drizzle over sushi will give you the tanginess and subtle umami richness you’re looking for.

🧐 FAQs

What is yum yum sauce called in Japan?

Yum yum sauce is referred to as “shrimp sauce” or “Sakura sauce” in Japan. Inn Japanese restaurants, they also call it “white sauce” in.

What is the most popular sushi condiment?

The most popular sushi condiment is soy sauce, often served alongside sushi for dipping. Its salty and savory flavor enhances the taste of the sushi rice and fish, adding depth to each bite.

What’s that sweet sauce often drizzled over sushi rolls?

The sweet sauce often drizzled over sushi rolls is called eel sauce or unagi sauce. It’s a reduction of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar giving a rich, caramelized flavor which is quite popular.

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