Ponzu

published Apr 7, 2022
Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Ponzu is a soy sauce based condiment spiked with citrus juice and mirin and steeped with katsuobushi and kombu.

Makesabout 3/4 cup

Prep5 minutes

Cook2 minutes

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Ponzu Sauce (a citrus-based sauce with a tart-tangy flavor similar to a vinaigrette) in a small ceramic carafe being poured over a plate of sliced tofu
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Ponzu is a soy sauce-based condiment spiked with citrus juice and mirin and steeped with katsuobushi and kombu

In Japan, ponzu is typically made with yuzu, a specific kind of citrus that is difficult to get here Stateside. Subbing in a combo of lemon and lime works well. Mirin provides sweetness to offset the salty, sharp flavors. Katsuobushi and kombu are the base flavors for dashi, the umami-packed broth that is the basis for so many Japanese dishes, like miso soup. 

There isn’t really a standard formula for ponzu, and it’s very based on personal taste. Feel free to play around with the soy sauce-to-mirin-to-acid ratio until it reaches your preference.

Is Ponzu Vegan?

Katsuobushi is made from fish, which means traditional ponzu is not vegan. You can leave it out or use a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms for a vegan version. 

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

How Do I Use Kombu and Katsuobushi in Ponzu?

Kombu and katsuobushi are treated similarly here like when making dashi. There are two popular ways to do this.

  • Cold brew method: In this method, the kombu and katsuobushi are added to the sauce and slowly infused with their flavor without heat. This produces a slightly more subtle and overall clearer-tasting sauce. It’s slightly easier and requires fewer dishes, just more time.
  • Quick brew method: Here the soy sauce and mirin are warmed with the kombu, then the katsuobushi is added and steeped in the warm liquid for 10 minutes. Despite the small amount of time, this sauce tends to be a little saltier and a touch more strongly flavored.

How Do I Use Ponzu?

Ponzu sauce is very versatile. Try it as the following:

Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Ponzu is a soy sauce based condiment spiked with citrus juice and mirin and steeped with katsuobushi and kombu.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 2 minutes

Makes about 3/4 cup

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup

    mirin

  • 1 to 2

    medium limes

  • 2 teaspoons

    rice vinegar

  • 1 (about 3-inch square) piece

    dried kombu (dried kelp)

  • 1/4 lightly packed cup

    katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes)

Instructions

Method 1: Cold Brew

  1. Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon until you have 2 tablespoons. Squeeze the juice from 1 to 2 limes until you have 2 tablespoons. Place the lemon juice, lime juice, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar in a resealable container or small jar. Add 1 (3-inch square) piece kombu and 1/4 lightly packed cup katsuobushi. Stir to combine.

  2. Seal the container and let steep for 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another jar or bowl. Discard the kombu and katsuobushi, or reserve for another use.

Method 2: Quick Brew

  1. Place 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, and 1 (3-inch) piece kombu in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles start to form at the edges, about 2 minutes. Do not boil, or the kombu will create a slimy texture. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  2. Add 1/4 lightly packed cup katsuobushi, stir to combine, and let steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon until you have 2 tablespoons. Squeeze the juice from 1 to 2 limes until you have 2 tablespoons.

  3. Strain the soy sauce mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a resealable container or small jar. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, and stir to combine.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Ponzu can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.