Super Sauce—for a Japanese pantry

a basic Japanese sauce

  • Servings: 1⅓ cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Super Sauce

from: Hiroko’s American Kitchen
Cooking with Japanese Flavors
6 Easy Sauces; 125 Modern Recipes

  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cups tightly packed katsuobushi
  • 1 ounce kombu (two 4-inch by 7-inch pieces)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the mirin to a simmer. Add the soy sauce and return the liquid to a gentle simmer. Add the katsuobushi, then turn the heat off. Let the pan sit for 15 minutes.

Strain the sauce and discard the fish flakes. Transfer the sauce to a clean glass jar. Submerge the kombu (kelp) in the liquid. Refrigerate the jar, covered, for 4 hours. Remove and discard the kelp.

The Super Sauce is very concentrated. Freeze it, tightly sealed, for up to 3 months. It does not freeze solid, so portions are easily removed with a spoon to make ponzu sauce, tempura dipping sauce, hot noodle broth, vegetable simmering stock. Combine the pantry sauce with readily available staples such as rice vinegar, sesame paste, sugar, citrus juices, water, ginger juice and so on to quickly create a wonderful variety of meals.

Hiroko's American Kitchen pantry recipe

hot noodle sauce c_5961


11 thoughts on “Super Sauce—for a Japanese pantry

  1. You make it all sound soooo easy, for me Japanese cooking is quite intimidating… but I would love to lose my fear and experiment more…

    Hope you are having a wonderful first month of 2014! Great to see you posting…

    • Hi Sally!

      Happy New Year! Life’s been odd for the past year or so. Let’s hope 2014 will be bright and fine…

      My Japanese cooking is all “home-style” and very approachable. By the way, have you seen the new “recipe shortcode” that WordPress has recently introduced? I apparently allows readers to print out recipes without the extra pictures, backgrounds, and sidebars. (My printer has decided to have a personality so sometimes it decides to have a nap whenever it takes a notion… but then it wakes up and works when it feels like it!) Anyway, the shortcode also has good SEO for recipes. Take a look:

  2. Hi Tess,
    Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
    I’ve missed you! I love the versatility of this sauce. What is your favorite way to use ?
    Take care,

    • Hi Karla!
      Hope you are well! and Happy New Year!!

      As for this sauce, the only recipe I’ve made with it so far is the udon. Ms. Shimbo has lots of other recipes using it and I hope to post about some of them soon. I’ve made a few recipes from that book, but my computer crashed and all my pictures and notes were lost.

      I bought about 1/2 a bushel of shingiko not realizing that I bought so much! So I should do a nabe before it fertilizes the bottom of my refrigerator. LOL! Something hot, simple, and comforting. It’s been unbelievably cold here. I can’t believe we’ve only had maybe 3 fires, and my daughter has not even lit her fireplace.


      • Hi Tess!
        I’m so very sorry to hear about your computer losing everything. How awful! After that happened when my last laptop went down, my tech guy bought me Time Machine. It automatically backs up all of your files on your computer.

        I LOVE shungiku! My local Korean market carries it along with almost all of the other Japanese ingredients that I normally use. I seem to remember having some sort of donburi in Japan and the shungiku was mixed in with the eggs. I love it in yosenabe as well.

        As far as our weather goes, it was around 80 today. Sounds great until you learn that our snow-pack is 80% below normal. Pictures of our dams, lakes, and reservoirs are heartbreaking. Governor Brown has declared a drought state of emergency, and we are looking at what could possibly be one of our driest years in recorded history. They are predicting water rationing like we had in the 70s. And no rain in sight.

        let me know what you end up the shungiku for!

        • I’m wondering if I could grow shingiku here in Michigan! Last summer we had bushels of kale. I discovered it was not my favorite vegetable/green. Husband and daughter love it, but 3 plants were simply too much!

          As for the huge amount of shingiku I bought, I used it in nabemono with chicken meatballs which were flavored with miso, ginger, and because I love it so much: garlic.

          My sisters-in-law in Seattle and Oakland have each noted the drought conditions on the West Coast. We’ve had more than normal cold and snowfall here. It’s an ironic memory in my brain from an elementary school discussion about the Russian bomb testing and threats about what was “free” including thoughts, air, and water. It’s frightening to realize that water is likely to become as conflict-inspiring as oil and energy have been in the past.

          My files are backed up somewhere online, but I haven’t had the heart to try to recover them yet.

          • I just got your great post on the meatball nabe! So that’s what you did with the shungiku! YUM! I MUST make this! And since I don’t eat red meat, these meatballs are right up my alley. We don’t use enough ground chicken here in this country like the Japanese do.
            But considering the weather that we’ve been having, it seems out of place right now. I am coveting the Japanese Farm Food book, and just previewed it on Amazon. I haven’t seen a Japanese cookbook that I’ve wanted so much since Washoku.
            My best friend lives in Flagstaff, and they are experiencing the same high pressure system that we are. She says that they have little snow this year compared to the previous ones. It’s going to be very grim here this summer, and friends who hike in both the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains are posting some very distressing images of them on Facebook. We worry greatly about the wildlife as well. This summer does not bode well. We are already the driest winter in LA’s recorded history. Pray.

            • Those meatballs made a great nabe, but you could serve them in a whole bunch of ways—grilled, or on soba with dipping sauce, or as appetizers, or on buns with lettuce and something a bit sweet or pickled… And I’m thinking that they’d be great to have stocked in the freezer for lunches or for unexpected guests. The book is lovely, and where you live, I think you’d be able to access a lot of the various kinds of fish she uses in many of the recipes.

              The weather patterns are disturbing. It’s so cold and snowy here. Not the normal way of things.

              • I used to have a great Japanese recipe for chicken meatballs that had shredded ginger in them as well. I am looking forward to making these! I love the freezing idea! I can’t afford the actual book which is a disappointment because I’m positive that it must “feel” gorgeous! But I now have the Kindle addition and have just started reading it. I have three choices for Japanese ingredients. My first one, oddly enough, is a great little Korean market about 5 miles from my house. I’ve been going there for many years, and it hasn’t changed a wink. He has absolutely impeccable produce at ridiculously low prices. (His shungiku rocks!) His Korean pears are to die for! Massive fresh prawns, clams, whole fish, sushi grade fish, (the Koreans love sashimi too!) And of course, you should see the different cuts of beef! I have made some great shabu-shabu dishes! The Koreans also make some amazing one-pots, and the ingredients are very similar. And just about every Japanese food product that you could ask for! He even has a very respectable sake selection! My second option is Mitsuwa Market which is about 10 miles away, and my third is Little Tokyo downtown. Actually, it would be pretty easy to just drive down the street, hop on the Gold Line, and it lets me off right on 1st street across from the Japanese American National Museum. But that trip feels more like a trip to a great Izakaya with a friend. Then sake consumption wouldn’t be a problem! Just like in Japan!
                It tried to rain today…spattered a little bit, then gave up. AARG!

                • These meatballs have ginger in them:

                  Ah, the Kindle. Someone gave me one, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it! My husband has it now. I’m not really very techy and just gave up! He’s happy with it though. The book is a good read! I quit my job on Halloween so I’m glad to have it to read now…

                  Yes, Korean groceries do seem to have lots of similar items as for Japanese foods. And yes, they do seem to be more affordable for all kinds of staples and special items than either Japanese groceries, Chinese groceries, and “regular” groceries. There are 3 possibilities, maybe 4, not too far away. But getting specific kinds of fish and seafood: that is expensive or frozen. AH!!!

                  Can I ask, (well I will) do you have a good recipe for a white nabe with soymilk? I read about some a long while ago, but I’d be curious if you know anything about them?

                  We have tons of snow here because of the “polar vortex” and tons of very very cold weather. Maybe the Great Lakes will get back to their normal depths for us here? It is all scary.

                  • Hi Tess,
                    Actually, the Kindle version of Japanese Farm Food has a really funky format and left off the entire second chapter on cooking techniques. It also formatted the recipes as so that they were almost impossible to follow. Out of sheer desperation I checked it out from the library. Along with Hiroko Shimbo’s book that I had never read.
                    I didn’t know anything about soy milk nabemono either, but I Googled it. it’s called Tonyu Nabe. I myself am interested to try it as well. Here’s one link that I liked, but there were many, many others as well. I bet that shungiku would be marvelous in this. One version had salmon for the fish.
                    It sort of flirted with a couple of rain drops today, but alas…
                    Ironically, the last time that we had a drought like this was in the 70s and Jerry brown was Governor as well!
                    It would appear that extreme water rationing is right around the corner, and that politics will soon rear its ugly head.

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