Ponzu sauce is a traditional Japanese dipping sauce prepared using soy sauce or tamari, citrus juice, mirin, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), kombu (kelp) and rice vinegar. The sauce is typically consumed as a condiment for sashimi, shabu shabu (hot pot), tataki (grilled meat), gyoza (dumplings), cold noodles and tempura.
Ponzu sauce can also be used as a marinade or salad dressing. Ponzu sauce has a similar umami flavor to dashi (which is provided by katsuobushi and kombu), while citrus juice and vinegar help enhance the sourness and the soy sauce helps with the saltiness, giving it a richer taste. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Traditionally, this sauce is prepared using juice from one or more of the following Japanese citrus fruits: yuzu, kabuso and sudachi. However, some people use fresh lime juice, lemon juice or orange juice instead.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The term “ponzu” means “juice squeezed from sour oranges” in Japanese. The word is believed to have derived from the Dutch word pons, which means “punch.” The word later got converted to ponsu, meaning “a drink of mixed ingredients.” After a period of time, the suffix su was substituted by zu, which means “vinegar.”
It is said that ponzu sauce may have been introduced to Japan by the visitors from Holland during the 17th century. Although this Japanese sauce is commonly accessible in both Asian and Western grocery stores, one can also easily make it at home.
Japanese Ponzu Sauce Recipe
- Soy sauce - ½ cup
- Citrus juice - ½ cup
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Mirin - 2 tbsp
- Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) - ½ cup
- Kombu (dried kelp) - 1 piece
- Begin by gathering all the ingredients. For citrus juice, you can use a combination of lemon, orange, and/or grapefruit juices. Also, you can also replace mirin with 2 tsp sugar + either 2 tbsp sake or 2 tbsp water.
- Now, take a sterilized mason jar and put in all the ingredients. Mix well.
- Next, take the jar and steep in the refrigerator for at least one night. If possible, steep it for several days, or for up to a week. If making a big batch, you can go up to a month.
- Once the steeping is done, take a sieve and drain the mixture in order to strain out the katsuobushi and kombu.
- Keep in mind that you can store the homemade ponzu in a mason jar for up to 1 month but if you are replacing the mirin with water and sugar, it is suggested to use it within a week or so. Also, it is advisable to always use clean utensils when you use the sauce as it helps to avoid cross-contamination. It is important to note that the sauce will be fit for consumption for 6 to 12 months if you make sure to sanitize and keep everything clean while preparing the ponzu.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7090mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 4gSugar: 30gProtein: 12g