Eel sauce, also called Unagi sauce, is a thickened and sweetened soy sauce that is perfect for dipping or drizzling. It doesn’t actually contain any eel products and is a sweet and sticky sauce perfect for topping any fish or sushi.
Homemade sauces are totally worth the extra effort! Yes you can buy a lot of them at the grocery store, but they usually have more ingredients than necessary and they don’t taste as fresh. I love making my own versions of all kinds of sauces at home. A few that you should definitely try are this homemade hoisin sauce, this potsticker sauce, and this homemade honey mustard.
What is Eel Sauce?
Does eel sauce actually have eel in it? Nope! It is basically a thickened soy sauce with mirin in it. It’s sweet and sticky and super delicious on things like sushi and fish. Eel sauce is based on a traditional Japanese sauce called nitsume which was basically an eel broth sauce. But the version of this sauce that we all enjoy today doesn’t actually have any eel in it.
So how should you eat eel sauce? Think of it like a soy dipping sauce! It’s amazing over the top of sushi or even a poke bowl. It is incredible served over vegetable stir fry or even on top of your pizza! You can use it instead of teriyaki sauce on chicken, or instead of hoisin sauce. I like to eat it on top of my salmon, and it makes plain white rice taste incredible. It makes a really great marinade for all kinds of proteins. There are so many ways to eat this sauce, you are going to love it!
Eel sauce has just 5 ingredients in it, and you probably already have them in your pantry! If you don’t have mirin on hand, you should definitely get some because it’s great for things like your own homemade teriyaki sauce and lots of other dishes like noodles and tempura. This is a sweet sauce, so you will add extra sugar. You can find the measurements below in the recipe card.
- Soy Sauce: Has a great umami flavor that is perfectly salty and savory.
- Granulated Sugar: Helps to make the sauce sticky and balances out the salty flavors.
- Mirin: You should be able to find this at your local grocery stores in the Asian section. You could use sake instead if you prefer, or rice vinegar for an alcohol free option.
- Cornstarch: To help thicken the sauce.
- Water: To make a slurry for the corn starch.
Eel Sauce Recipe
Get ready for a simple and delicious eel sauce recipe that you can make in just 15 minutes. It’s so flavorful and totally worth a little bit of effort. It’s easy to buy eel sauce, but it tastes so much better when it’s made at home. And the ingredients are simple and inexpensive, so you are really going to love whipping this sauce up anytime you need it.
- Heat Sauce: In a small saucepan combine the soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.
- Boil and Simmer: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until reduced and thickened.
- Make Cornstarch Slurry: In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry.
- Add Slurry to Sauce: Add the slurry to the sauce and stir until combined.
- Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. You may continue to reduce if you would like a thicker consistency.
- Let cool completely before serving.
Tips for Making Eel Sauce
Eel sauce is a salty sauce that really helps to bring delicious flavor out of whatever you choose to serve it with. Here are a few adjustments that I’ve made to this sauce that I’ve really enjoyed.
- Thinner Sauce: If you like a thinner sauce, you can leave the cornstarch and water out. I like it to kind of cling to my chicken or salmon, but if you want it to be thinner for drizzling, you can just leave the cornstarch out altogether.
- Adding Flavors: Ginger is a great addition to this sauce. I like to add thinly sliced fresh ginger, or you could add ginger powder. I also have added garlic which I especially love if I’m serving the sauce over tofu or as a glaze on grilled fish.
- Ingredient Substitutions: This savory sauce can be made in a lot of different ways. A homemade eel sauce recipe is kind of universal with the same basic ingredients, but you can swap some of them out for convenience. You can use sake or rice vinegar instead of mirin. You can use a liquid sweetener like agave instead of white sugar. You can leave out the cornstarch and cook the sauce a little longer to reduce it down. You can also add other flavorful ingredients like I mentioned above.
One of the best reasons to make eel sauce at home is you can store it in the fridge for weeks. It’s so versatile that you can use it on so many recipes throughout the month, and it’s easy to store and reheat.
In the Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup mirin
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
In a small pot combine the soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until reduced and thickened.
In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry.
Add the slurry to the sauce and stir until combined.
Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. You may continue to reduce if you would like a thicker consistency.
Let cool completely before serving.
Calories659kcal (33%)Carbohydrates162g (54%)Protein12g (24%)Fat0.4g (1%)Saturated Fat0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat0.1gMonounsaturated Fat0.02gSodium7386mg (308%)Potassium248mg (7%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar130g (144%)Calcium25mg (3%)Iron3mg (17%)
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.
Course condiment, Sauce
Cuisine Asian, Asian American
Keyword eel sauce, soy dipping sauce
I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.