This Unagi Sauce is perfect for homemade sushi rolls and bowls. It’s sweet, savory, and full of umami flavor, with a thick, syrupy texture that’s just delicious.
Table Of Contents
I love this recipe because it means I always have some Unagi Sauce on hand for a sushi craving, and I can tweak the flavor and texture as much as I like. You’re going to love this unique sauce.
- TASTE: Unagi sauce has tons of flavor and is very full-bodied. You can really taste the sweet, salty, savory, and umami elements.
- TEXTURE: This sauce is simmered on the stove until it’s deliciously thick and syrupy. This makes it perfect for using in sushi rolls and as a topping.
- TIME: This recipe only takes 10 minutes.
- EASE: This sauce is seriously easy to make, with just 4 ingredients.
What You’ll Need
- Soy sauce– This adds a large part of the flavor to this Unagi sauce. It’s a very savory sauce with salty and umami flavors.
- Sake– This rice wine is similar to white wine, with a slightly sweet, clean flavor that’s a little fruity, a little nutty. The alcohol will burn off while the sauce cooks, leaving great flavor.
- Mirin– This is similar to sake, but with less alcohol content. It also has a sweeter flavor. You can find it in the Asian aisle at your grocery store or at a specialty shop.
- Sugar- This adds sweetness as well as helps thicken the unagi sauce as it melts and becomes a simple syrup.
Add-ins and Substitutions
- Substitute low sodium soy sauce- If you are trying to cut down on salt, you can use the low sodium version of soy sauce. It’s got just as much flavor.
- Add honey- If you prefer to skip refined sugars, you can make this with honey instead. The flavor may be slightly different though.
- Substitute white wine- If you can’t find any sake, you can use white wine in its place. It has a similar flavor profile and is available at all grocery stores.
- Make it gluten-free- Since soy sauce often contains gluten, make this Unagi Sauce with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari sauce.
How to Make Unagi Sauce
- Add all the ingredients to the pot. Place a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Let it come to a boil.
- Simmer. Once the sugar is dissolved and it’s boiling, bring the heat down to low and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat immediately. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve chilled.
Pro Tip: A good way to tell if the sauce is done is by coating the back of a spoon. If it stays coated, it’s done.
- Bring it to a boil before simmering- You need that residual heat to thicken this sauce, so make sure it is bubbling before you bring it down to a simmer.
- Stir the saucepan until the sugar dissolves- Avoid burnt sugar at the bottom of your pan by giving it a stir until the sugar has dissolved and it’s just liquid.
- Check for doneness- Coating the back of a spoon to see if it remains on the spoon is the best way to get the perfect texture for this unagi sauce. Remember, it will thicken as it cools.
- Make a double batch- This delicious sauce is so good, it won’t last long. Make a double batch and keep it in the fridge or freeze some for later.
These two sauces may look alike, but they taste very different. Teriyaki sauce is made with spice, like ginger, while Unagi sauce is not spicy at all, and contains mirin, sake, and sugar along with the soy sauce. Their flavor profiles are not the same.
While unagi sauce is also called eel sauce, it’s not because there isn’t any eel in it. Rather, this sauce got its name because it is often used in the preparation of unagi, which is the Japanese word for freshwater eel.
This Unagi Sauce has amazing flavor and you can enjoy it with more than just sushi. Here are some great serving suggestions to try.
- Sushi: Add this homemade sauce to Shrimp Tempura Rolls, Easy Sushi Bakes, unagi sushi, and California Roll Sushi Bowls. You can also pour it over a plate of fried tofu.
- Meat: Brush this sauce on your favorite meats or use it as a dipping sauce for Barbecue Pork Ribs, Smoked Chicken Wings, and Juicy Air Fryer Pork Chops (VIDEO).
- Seafood: Enjoy this Unagi Sauce on Panko Crusted Salmon, Air Fryer Shrimp, grilled eel, and Beer Battered Cod.
- Vegetables: Try it with some Easy Stuffed Mushrooms with Cream Cheese, Roasted Air Fryer Vegetables, or Sauteed Garlic Asparagus.
Make This Recipe in Advance
Make ahead: You can make this sauce ahead and either store it in the fridge or freezer. To reheat, warm it on the stove, adding water if it has thickened more than you want.
Storing: Store this Unagi Sauce in an airtight container or Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Freeze: Once the homemade eel sauce has cooled, freeze it in an ice cube tray, then transfer the cubes to a freezer ziplock bag for easy use. You can store it for up to 3 months.
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Full Recipe Instructions
- Let it come to a simmer. Once the sugar is dissolved and it’s come to a boil, bring the heat down to low and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. A good way to tell if the sauce is done is by coating the back of a spoon. If it stays coated, it’s done. Remove from the heat immediately. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve chilled over your favorite sushi.