Eel Sauce (Unagi No Tare) Recipe: What is it and How Can You Make it?

EEL Sauce
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All of us who love sushi or are fans of Japanese cuisine are already familiar with the scrumptious eel sauce. This is because eel sauce sushi is the most popular dish served in many Thai and Japanese restaurants. The sticky sweet and savory taste of this sauce makes it de rigueur for grilled fish.

So, today we’re going to tell you why it has turned into an impromptu part of grilled dishes. Moreover, we’ll also share a super easy eel sauce recipe with you.

What is Eel Sauce?

Eel Sauce

This sauce(ウナギソース)is a special condiment that is synonymous with Japanese cuisine. It also goes by the names Unagi no tare, kabayaki sauce, or nitsume sauce. Almost everyone who’s a fan of Japanese food has already tasted it and fallen in love with its rich texture.

Because of its deep flavor and exquisite taste, it has become a must for Japanese foods. Although it was originally used for giving flavor to unagi and rice, it’s widely used over sushi now.

How to Make Unagi Sauce? Eel Sauce Recipe

How to make eel sauce at home | Recipe | Ingredients | Procedure

Despite what people say, you can easily recreate this sauce at your home by following a simple homemade eel sauce recipe.

Making it at your home is really easy and you need just four ingredients to do it. Just like homemade teriyaki sauce, you can conveniently make this sauce in large quantities and freeze it for later use.

Now, let’s take a look at how to make it using a simple recipe.

Things You’ll Need

  • ¼ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar


  • Firstly, gather all the ingredients. Now, add soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat it over medium heat.
  • Stirring occasionally bring the sauce to low boil.
  • Keep it on the heat till the liquid remains one third. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken after cooling. So, if it gets too thick you can easily thin it by adding water over heat.
  • Taste the sauce by taking it on small plate. Let it cool, if it has the consistency of honey then your sauce is ready otherwise you need to heat it more.
  • Once you’ve reached your desired consistency remove the sauce from heat. Voila! Your sauce is ready to be used.

Also Read:

Why’s Eel Sauce Named Eel Sauce?

It doesn’t contain any eel but it’s still called with this name because it is mainly served with unagi dishes. All dishes that contain unagi (eel), served with rice or other side dishes contain a topping of this sauce. Consequently, it got its name as it’s served on top of mainly grilled fish dishes.

How Does Eel Sauce Taste?

The taste of unagi no tare sauce is quite unique. It is somewhat sweet, salty, tangy at the same time. It has a rich umami texture and flavor and is free of MSG. The sauce recipe gives it a distinct consistency that makes it a perfect addition to any dish.

Different Types of The Sauce:

In this section, we’ll tell you about different kinds of this sauce and the easy sauce recipe for making them by yourself.

1. Recipe for Eel Sauce Vegetarian

The recipe for making vegan unagi no tare sauce is the same as the original one. To make it vegan simply replace granulated sugar with whole cane sugar and you’re all good to go.

2. Spicy Eel Sauce

You can easily make this sauce spicy by adding a little bit of spice to your existing sauce. As this sauce isn’t spicy by nature, therefore, if you want to make it spicy you have to add spices to it by yourself. Adding a bit of hot sauce while preparing your sauce is one simple way to make it spicy.

3. Eel Liquor Sauce

As the sauce already contains miring and sake; therefore, you don’t need to add any more liquor to it.

4. Eel Sauce without Mirin

Well, mirin is undoubtedly a compulsory ingredient for making unagi no tare but if you’re out of mirin then you can use any substitute. There are several ingredients that you can use instead of mirin like dry sherry or sweet Marsala wine. You can even use vinegar or dry white wine but if you’re using it remember to increase the quantity of your sugar.

What is Eel Sauce Made Of: Eel Sauce Ingredients

What is Eel Sauce

The unagi sauce is made up of only four simple and authentic Japanese ingredients and they’re:

  • Mirin.
  • Sake.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Sugar

So, if you were wondering what is in eel sauce, now you know. And if you’re thinking about how is eel sauce made then we’ve already mentioned a really easy recipe above. However, if you’re still confused about how do you make eel sauce, simply follow these easy instructions for making easy sauce.

  • Add all the ingredients in a pan and heat it over medium flame until required honey like consistency is reached. Once the sauce is thick enough, remove it from heat and let it cool. Your tasty sauce is ready now and all good to eat.

Uses of Eel Sauce or What to Serve with it

Uses of Eel Sauce

You can use this sauce with any type of grilled dish. It adds extra flavor to both grilled vegetables as well as meats. Some common uses of this sauce are:

Sushi Eel Sauce or Eel Sauce Sushi How to Make it?

The most popular use of this sauce is with sushi and making it as a garnishing sauce for sushi is really simple. For making this sauce for sushi, you just have to follow the original sauce recipe. That is, you need to add mirin, soy sauce, sake and sugar in a pan and heat it over medium flame until it reaches the thickness of honey. Once it reaches this thickness take it off the heat and let it cool. Once it’s cool, it will become thicker and you can easily drizzle it over your sushi and enjoy your sushi with this yummy sauce.

Eel Sauce for Grilled Whole Chicken

Just like sushi, this sauce goes exceptionally well with grilled meat dishes. To make this sauce for grilled chicken simply add the following ingredients to the recipe. Add ½ cup minced onion, 1 clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon of butter along with ½ cup of water to mirin and soy sauce.

Stir fry the onion in butter in a small pan and when they turn translucent add the rest ingredients i.e., water, soy sauce, mirin, and garlic. Let it cook until you achieve your required thickness. Once it’s thick enough remove it from heat and let it cool.

Eel Sauce for Barbeque Beef Short Ribs

Along with barbequed beef ribs especially Kalbi kabyaki sauce i.e., this sauce is a must. In order to make this sauce, you just have to replace sugar with brown sugar, the rest of the recipe is the same. Prepare the sauce in the same manner and drizzle it over barbequed beef.

Eel Sauce with Oven Fried Fish

Kabyaki sauce is a compulsory condiment for oven-fried fish particularly unagi in Japanese cuisine. The recipe for preparing kayaki for fish is even simpler than the original one. You only need soy sauce, mirin, and sugar for preparing it. Simply mix all the ingredients and heat it over low heat. Let it cool and it’s ready to eat!

Have You Ever Tried This Sauce with KFC Grilled Chicken?

Likewise, you can easily use this sauce as a condiment with KFC grilled chicken to enhance its taste. Natsume sauce is obligatory with KFC grilled chicken in Southeast Asia.

Where to Buy Eel Sauce?

eel Sauce in market

if you’re looking to buy the best eel sauce for sale then there are different places that you can check. If you want to go buy it in person, you can buy this sauce from your nearest grocery stores. Even there’s a huge variety of this sauce in Walmart, you can find everything there from Japanese to unagi sauce.

However, when you’re going to buy this sauce you must look for quality sauce brands such as Kikkoman or unagi sauce. Similarly, if you’re wondering from where can I buy eel sauce for sushi then you can easily get it from your nearest Walmart or Publix. There’re special shelves for eel sauce Publix.

Even if you run out of unagi sauce you can use teriyaki sauce as a substitute for this sauce. Teriyaki sauce will give the same texture and flavor to your dishes but it’ll be a little bit spicier.

Myths and FAQ’s about the Sauce

Now let’s take a look at some common queries that people have regarding this sauce.

Myths about Eel Sauce
What is Substitute of Eel Sauce?

When considering a substitute for eel sauce, teriyaki sauce stands out as an excellent choice due to its similarities in flavour profile and versatility. Teriyaki sauce’s sweetness and umami notes make it a suitable replacement for eel sauce, particularly when used with grilled or broiled dishes.

While teriyaki sauce may not precisely replicate the exact taste of eel sauce, its comparable characteristics ensure a satisfying and flavorful experience.

The sauce has a glossy appearance and a thinner consistency compared to eel sauce. Teriyaki sauce offers a balanced combination of sweetness and umami, with a touch of tanginess from the mirin and sake. The flavors meld together to create a delightful harmony that complements various proteins and vegetables.

How Many Calories Does this Sauce Have?

The total number of calories that you can get in one tablespoon serving of this sauce is around 34 calories. However, if your normal serving is 2 tablespoons then you’ll consume 68 calories.

Eel Sauce Nutrition Facts

Like every other type of condiment, this sauce should also be eaten in moderation. Despite the fact that it’s finger-licking good, you shouldn’t make it a part of your daily eating routine. 1 tablespoon facts of nutrition for eel sauce are:

1 tablespoon serving contains 34 calories, 14% sodium, 2% carbohydrates, 0% fat and 0.6g protein.

Moreover, eating too many sauces will increase your overall weight and you’ll gain body fat. But if you already have excess body fat and want to lose your extra belly fat, then use carb-free and sugar-free sauces.

Is Eel Sauce Gluten-Free or Does Eel Sauce Have Gluten?

As this sauce contains soy sauce which has wheat ingredients in it, therefore, you cannot consider it gluten-free. However, if you make your sauce using gluten-free soy sauce then it’s gluten-free. Therefore, it’s always good to ask your server the type of soy sauce they use before you order so you can enjoy this gluten free sauce.

Is Eel Sauce Vegetarian (Vegan)?

Yes, unagi na tare is 100% vegetarian as it doesn’t have any non-vegan ingredients. It is made with only four things and they’re sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar.

Does Eel Sauce have Eel in it?

The concern of most people and the most frequently asked question is probably “is their eel in eel sauce”. Well, despite the common misconception, this sauce doesn’t contain any. In fact, no fish is used in making it, it simply contains, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and sake.

Can I Eat Eel Sauce While Pregnant?

Yes, it is safe for use during pregnancy. The amount of alcohol present in almost all recipes isn’t that much that it can harm the baby.

How Long Does Eel Sauce Last?

The shelf life of a store-bought sauce is several months as it contains preservatives. On the other hand, homemade eel sauce can last for about 2 weeks.

Image Source: Pexels, Pixabay and Wikimedia

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Talha is a well-versed writer and an automotive aficionado. He has a passion for anthropology and you can find him traveling far and wide observing life as it happens.