- What Is Mentsuyu?
- What Is Mentsuyu Made of?
- What Does Mentsuyu Taste Like?
- Different Types of Mentsuyu
- How Is Mentsuyu Used?
What Is Mentsuyu?
Mentsuyu is a seasoning made based on dashi, mirin, sake, and sugar.
Although it is mainly used for noodle dishes such as udon, soba, and somen, it is also used for simmered dishes and dipping sauce of tempura.
What Is Mentsuyu Made of?
Mentsuyu is made from kaeshi and dashi.
Kaeshi is made by simmering dark soy sauce (regular soy sauce), sugar, mirin, etc.
Dashi can be anything, for example, dashi made from kombu, bonito, mackerel, shiitake mushrooms, and iriko (small dried sardine).
What Does Mentsuyu Taste Like?
The basic taste of mentsuyu is salty-sweet taste comes from soy sauce and sugar (mirin). Also, it has great koku and umami that comes from dashi stock.
The scent of dashi differ depending on the type of dashi, so you can choose your favorite flavor.
Different Types of Mentsuyu
Straight or Concentrated
・Mentsuyu specializing in one application
・The shelf life after opening is often as short as 2 to 3 days when stored in the refrigerator.
・You can enjoy a milder taste than the concentrated type.
・Many products last for about a month after opening.
・The flavor is more salty than the straight type.
・It can be used universally for any dish
In general, the concentrated type is relatively expensive. However, it’s often good value for money because the diluted mentsuyu is sufficient for use.
Differences in Raw Materials
Different Types of Dashi
Basically, most of the mentsuyu on the market contain one or more of bonito, kombu, and shiitake mushrooms dashi. But, it varies depending on the manufacturer.
・Using freshly cut bonito shavings procured as dried bonito
・Using only first-grade kombu
・Using three major umami ingredients: bonito, kombu, and shiitake mushrooms
・Using various fish shavings such as tuna and sardines in addition to bonito
Different Types and Formulations of Seasonings
There are various seasonings in mentsuyu such as soy sauce, sake, and mirin. The amount of each one of them totally depends on the manufacturer.
Especially the sweetness depends on the manufacturer, so you should probably check the packages and reviews of the product and try to find your favorite taste.
It seems that mentsuyu that do not use sugar at all are also on sale these days.
Similar Products (Shirodashi and Kombu-tsuyu)
Let me introduce 2 famous seasonings very similar to mentsuyu: shirodashi and kombu-tsuyu.
The name is not “mentsuyu”, however the raw materials of them are very similar to mentsuyu and people often use them instead of mentsuyu.
Please note that the saltiness differ depending on the manufacturer, so it is good to use while checking the taste.
Shiro means “white”, and the best feature is that it uses light-colored soy sauce.
Because it is relatively salty, it may be better to add water or sugar (mirin) when using it as a substitute for mentsuyu. Please adjust the taste to your liking.
As the name says, this is mentsuyu with distinctive richness of a wonderful flavor of kombu.
I think kombu-tsuyu is closer to mentsuyu than shirodashi.
You can substitute kombu-tsuyu for mentsuyu by just adding water or hot water.
How Is Mentsuyu Used?
As I said in the previous section, there are both straight or concentrated type of mentsuyu.
If it’s concentrated type, please use it after you dilute it with water or hot water according to the package.
The followings are examples of the use of mentsuyu.
Soup for Udon, Soba, and Somen Noodles
Dipping Sauce for Tempura
Seasoned Boiled Egg
You can easily make this amazing side dish by just soaking boiled eggs in mentsuyu sauce overnight.
When you are making Japanese-style pasta, I guess soy sauce will be the main seasoning most of the time.
You can substitute mentsuyu for soy sauce at that time. It gives much more koku and umami to the dish.
In the same way as pasta sauce, please try to season fried rice with mentsuyu sometime.
Japanese Mixed Rice (Takikomi-gohan)
You don’t have to add various types of seasonings to make mixed rice with your rice cooker. The flavor of the rice will be amazing by only adding mentsuyu.
Oyakodon (Bowl of Rice with Chicken and Eggs)
Because delicious dashi, soy sauce, and mirin are needed for seasoning oyakodon, mentsuyu is the best one for it.
Onigiri (Rice Ball)
The best way to use mentsuyu for onigiri is this: mix the rice, mentsuyu, tempura scraps, and aonori flakes (green dried seaweed). You will definitely love this taste!
Poke Don / Salmon Don
When you are making poke bowl or soy-marinated salmon bowl, please try to use mentsuyu. It should be great seasoning for fresh sashimi indeed!
Japanese-style of simmered dishes often need dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. As with the other examples, mentsuyu is the most useful, delicious seasoning for this dish.
How To Make Mentsuyu from Scratch
What Can I Use Instead of Mentsuyu?