Sauces are one of the reasons that most dishes are even tastier when we eat. In many cuisines from all over the world, sauces are actually a staple ingredient and no dish is complete without its sauce.
Japanese cuisine is one of the many that uses many types of sauce with their meals. Whether it is a dipping sauce or you are marinating meat, or just a salad dressing, sauces are all you need.
Actually, ponzu sauce is one of the sauces that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine with fish or other seafood or simply for marinating.
However, this is a very unique sauce with unique ingredients. What if you can’t find it? Is there an alternative that could bring the taste of ponzu sauce?
Can I substitute ponzu sauce with other sauces or ingredients? Of course, read below as I will provide a list of substitutes that are a good replacement like Worcestershire sauce, Nam prik pla, Soy sauce, and a recipe with alternative ingredients that will help you to get the taste that you are looking for.
Also, you’ll find the best recipe for homemade ponzu sauce, that will easily help you replace the one from the market.
Substitutes for Ponzu Sauce
The thing is that there is no simple substitute for Ponzu sauce because of its unique and flavor texture. Meaning, this sauce is a bit hard to replace, so the best way for you will be to make your own ponzu sauce.
However, in case you’re not in the mood, check out the next list with alternatives that are something close to the traditional Ponzu sauce and save your recipe.
1. Worcestershire sauce
This sauce is very similar to ponzu sauce. It contains tamarind and anchovies that replace tart citrus juice and bonito flakes from the ponzu sauce.
It is said that this sauce actually imitates the flavors of the ponzu sauce and it is commonly used. It’s available all over the world and is a staple in many cuisines.
The only thing that is quite different and a drawback is that this sauce includes spices that can distract the taste from the ponzu sauce. But the main elements are the same. This sauce works well for marinating meat.
2. Nam prik pla
This Thai sauce is made of fish sauce, lime juice, and hot chilies and can serve as a replacement. However, the chilliness is not actually part of the Japanese cuisine so you can omit them. Still, the other ingredients can do you good for your dish.
The perfect balance between sweetness, soreness, and saltiness can complement your dish very well. You don’t have to be afraid to experience and combine other cuisines as an alternative.
3. Soy sauce
Generally, soy sauce is actually part of the ponzu sauce. Just add some lemon juice to your soy sauce and you’ll get the perfect substitute.
The flavors will be almost the same since these ingredients are already part of the ponzu sauce itself. It works well as a dipping sauce. You can add lemon juice and vinegar to add the acidity that ponzu sauce has.
This sauce can be used as well for a marinade, as it will give you a good touch and flavor to your meat.
Furthermore, as a way of replacing ponzu sauce, it can be taken into consideration the option for you to create a sauce that will have similar ingredients as the ponzu sauce. This way, you’ll get the flavor that you are probably looking for.
- ¼ cup of low-sodium of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (freshly juiced preferably, but pulp works as well)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
Combine all of these ingredients and leave them overnight. Actually, this sauce will easily replace ponzu sauce when combined with fish or more exotic ingredients.
How to Make Ponzu Sauce at Home?
This is a classical Japanese dressing that has a tart-tangy flavor which is very similar to the vinaigrette. Actually, this sauce is a mixture of ponzu (citrus juice of sudachi, yuzu, kabosu, and vinegar), soy sauce, sugar, and dashi.
This sauce contains a variety of ingredients, which make it very refreshing and unique. It has the umami element like sweet, salt, and sour elements all combined in one.
It is used as a dipping sauce for shabu-shabu or seafood or as a marinade when cooking meat, especially chicken, as well as a dressing for salads or cold noodles.
You can easily find it in any well-stocked Asian grocery shop or you can order it online. However, there is a better option for you to do it at home, so follow the recipe below and make your own ponzu sauce.
- 3 tablespoons of mirin
- 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of bonito flames
- ¼ cup of fresh or bottled yuzu juice
- Mix the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes in a pan over medium heat. After it’s done, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
- Put the sauce through a strainer into a bowl and remove the bonito flakes. Add lime or yuzu juice.
- Serve it in a glass jar and put it in the fridge for 3 days.
- When you serve this sauce, you can add a bit more lime juice if you feel the need.
*As a variation you can add lime or orange juice for the traditional yuzu juice. Also, if you want a gluten-free sauce, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- There is a chance for you to freeze this sauce. An easy way is to pour it into ice cubes and use them whenever necessary.
- This sauce is served to make the dish even tastier and complements the traditional Japanese steamed or grilled fish dishes.
- As I previously mentioned, ponzu is used for salads as a dressing. Whether you are making a simple green salad or just a cold noodle salad, ponzu is the sauce you need. You can add in a 2:1 ratio to oil, like ½ cup ponzu to ¼ cup of oil, to have the perfect dressing.
- Also, as a marinade for chicken, do not let the meat stay longer than six hours. As for the fish, 30 minutes to an hour is good enough to get all the juices.
Do I need to refrigerate ponzu sauce?
Yes, once you start using the bottle of Ponzu sauce, you have to put it in the fridge to avoid spoilage if bacteria enters the bottle.
How long does ponzu sauce last?
It lasts for 6 to 12 months. If you sanitize it well and make sure that everything is clean during making or using the sauce.