5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Japanese/ Lunch/ Recipes/ Super Simple

Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Dipping Sauce)

19/08/2020

This Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Dipping Sauce) is ready in minutes! Made from soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi powder, it’s a super refreshing dipping sauce for a hot summer’s day.

Dipping freshly cooked noodles in cold mentsuyu dipping sauce.

Why We Love This

We love having a batch of mentsuyu sauce in the fridge so it’s always on standby whenever we get hungry! It’s so refreshing to dip cold soba noodles in the chilled mentsuyu sauce, especially in summer. But you can also enjoy it warm, poured straight over a batch of freshly cooked noodles. 

Traditional mentsuyu recipes call for real dashi stock made from a base of kombu (seaweed) and dried bonito flakes. We prefer to use dashi powder for a quick and easy alternative to making real dashi.

Top down view of mentsuyu dipping sauce next to uncooked soba noodles.

What is Mentsuyu? 

Mentsuyu (sometimes called tsuyu) is a popular dipping sauce / soup base used in Japanese cuisine. It’s a refreshing and tasty way to enjoy noodles any time, because it’s so quick to prepare! There are two main ways to enjoy it:

  • Cold – Tsuketsuyu – dip cold soba noodles into chilled mentsuyu sauce. This is how we’ve prepared today’s recipe.
  • Warm – Kaketsuyu – just pour mentsuyu straight over boiling noodles. The mentsuyu will mix with leftover cooking water on the noodles to make a delicious and healthy broth. 

What You’ll Need

Four simple little ingredients are all you need to make your own batch of mentsuyu dipping sauce at home using this simplified recipe:

  • Soy sauce – You can use any kind of regular or light soy sauce for this recipe. For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce.
  • Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine for cooking, if you can’t find it at your supermarket, you can omit or add in a 1/2 tsp of sugar instead. You can sometimes find this in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online.
  • Cooking sake – This is a type of rice wine made for cooking. It’s lighter and more delicate in flavour than Chinese cooking wine, but you can use either in this recipe. Look for it at Asian grocers or online.
  • Dashi powder – This is our favourite shortcut to save time on making dashi stock from scratch. You can find it in two different styles – kombu dashi (vegan) or hondashi (made with smoked dried bonito). If you feel like taking things further you can always make your own dashi stock from scratch with fresh kombu and katsuoboshi (bonito flakes) and use it in other Japanese recipes such as Udon Noodle Soup, Takoyaki or Shabu Shabu.
All the ingredients for mentsuyu sauce with cold noodles.

How to make:

  1. Stir together your soy, mirin, sake or rice wine and dashi powder in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Take it off the heat and set aside, allowing it to cool completely before use.
  3. (Optional) Garnish with a sprinkling of aonori powder or thinly sliced nori for extra flavour.

How to prepare cold soba noodles:

  1. If you’re ready to eat, go ahead and bring a medium pot of water to the boil, then add in your soba noodles. Cook according to packet directions (usually around 3 mins or so), then drain and remove from the heat.
  2. Allow noodles to cool completely before serving beside your cooled mentsuyu sauce.
  3. Dip your noodles in the sauce and enjoy!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • To stop your noodles from drying out (and add in a little extra deliciousness), stir a tsp of sesame oil through your noodles they start to cool down.
  • For the most refreshing experience, allow your noodles to cool completely before serving. You might like to run them under cold water to speed this up, or pop them in the fridge for 10 mins or so before serving so they cool down more quickly.

FAQs

Should I dilute mentsuyu before using it?

This recipe for mentsuyu doesn’t need to be diluted, but you can always do so if you prefer a less intense flavour. Most store-bought mentsuyu sauces are concentrated and very strong, so they will probably need to be diluted first. 

Do I need to use kombu and katsuoboshi to make real dashi stock for mentsuyu?

For this quick mentsuyu recipe we used dashi stock powder instead of real stock, which is a convenient way to save time. But if you prefer to make your own dashi stock from scratch using real kombu and katsuoboshi, by all means please do!

What else can I use mentsuyu for?

You can use it to season other dishes such as grilled meats or stirfries. Add it to noodle soups for an extra depth of flavour.

How do I store mentsuyu?

Pop it in a sealed container or glass jar and pop it in the fridge. It should last for up to a month.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Mirin – For every 1tbsp of mirin, you can substitute with 1tbsp water + 1 tsp sugar.
  • Dashi Stock Powder – The best substitutes for this are either chicken or vegetable stock. The flavour won’t be the same, but they will still add an extra depth that you wouldn’t get if you omit the stock powder all together.
  • Flavour Intensity – Mentsuyu sauce can be quite strong, so you might like to add extra water to dilute the flavour and make it more like a soup if you prefer.
  • Optional Garnishes – We love sprinkling aonori (seaweed powder) and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice chilli powder) as a garnish over our sauce. They add an extra depth of flavour and colour to your bowl, but it’s not essential.
  • Homemade Noodles – If you’re feeling really inspired, you could also make your own noodles too!
A bowl of mentsuyu noodle sauce next to cooked soba noodles.

Here’s our other most popular Japanese sauces on the blog:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below!

A bowl of mentsuyu sauce with noodles.

Quick Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Sauce)

This Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Sauce) is ready in minutes! Made from soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi powder, it’s a super refreshing dipping sauce for a hot summer’s day.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Condiment, Lunch
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 833kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Equipment

Ingredients

Optional garnish:

Instructions

For the sauce:

  • Stir together your soy, mirin, sake or rice wine and dashi powder in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Take it off the heat and set aside, allowing it to cool completely before use.
  • (Optional) Garnish with a sprinkling of aonori powder or thinly sliced nori for extra flavour.

For the noodles:

  • If you’re ready to eat, go ahead and bring a medium pot of water to the boil, then add in your soba noodles. Cook according to packet directions (usually around 3 mins or so), then drain and remove from the heat.
  • For the most refreshing experience, allow your noodles to cool completely before serving. You might like to run them under cold water to speed this up, or pop them in the fridge for 10 mins or so before serving so they cool down more quickly.

Video

Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • Mirin – For every 1tbsp of mirin, you can substitute with 1tbsp water + 1 tsp sugar.
  • Dashi Stock Powder – The best substitutes for this are either chicken or vegetable stock. The flavour won’t be the same, but they will still add an extra depth that you wouldn’t get if you omit the stock powder all together.
  • Flavour Intensity – Mentsuyu sauce can be quite strong, so you might like to add extra water to dilute the flavour and make it more like a soup if you prefer.
  • Optional Garnishes – We love sprinkling aonori (seaweed powder) and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice chilli powder) as a garnish over our sauce. They add an extra depth of flavour and colour to your bowl, but it’s not essential.
  • Noodles – To stop your noodles from drying out (and add in a little extra deliciousness), stir a tsp of sesame oil through your noodles they start to cool down

Nutrition

Calories: 833kcal | Carbohydrates: 178g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4996mg | Potassium: 681mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 84IU | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 9mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Dipping Sauce)

20 Comments

  • Reply
    Dannii
    29/07/2019 at 6:15 pm

    5 stars
    That sounds like a delicious sauce for noodles. I will definitely be trying it.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      31/07/2019 at 10:49 am

      Please do! Would love to know what you think. 🙂

    • Reply
      Mandy
      20/07/2020 at 11:31 am

      5 stars
      Loved the simplicity of this recipe and it’s amazing tasty result!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        20/07/2020 at 12:04 pm

        Aww yay thanks Dannii, so glad to hear!

  • Reply
    Pinelopi Kyriazi
    29/07/2019 at 6:04 pm

    5 stars
    Awesome! I made this yesterday and it was absolutely mouthwatering! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      31/07/2019 at 10:49 am

      Oh fantastic, thanks Pinelopi, hope you enjoyed!

  • Reply
    Farah
    29/07/2019 at 4:19 pm

    5 stars
    How fascinating! I love how your recipes expose me to a whole different culture!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      31/07/2019 at 10:47 am

      Aww thanks Farah, glad to share in your kitchen adventures. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan
    23/01/2017 at 9:59 pm

    I so love the power food has to food has to “ignite (my) memory and link (me) back with the people (i)met long ago!”And I so love the look of this Cold Soba Noodle Sauce recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      07/02/2017 at 1:54 pm

      Haha thanks Shashi, so glad we’re not the only ones! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry
    23/01/2017 at 8:09 pm

    5 stars
    Never tried cold noodles. That sauce looks really simple to make and delicious, bet it has lots of flavour.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:32 am

      Yep! It’s jam packed with flavour, and despite having similar ingredients to other Japanese recipes, it’s got a unique flavour all of its own.

  • Reply
    Debra C.
    23/01/2017 at 5:04 pm

    I love it when something simple is amazing! These noodles look delish – I could slurp them up right now. What a treat!!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:31 am

      Oh trust me, we slurped. Oh how we slurped! Hahah 😛

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    23/01/2017 at 4:58 pm

    5 stars
    This sounds fantastic! I do love soba noodles (in fact, I’m making some for lunch today), but I’ve never tried eating them cold before. Need to remedy that!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:30 am

      Would love to know what you think of the cold version Elizabeth!

  • Reply
    Priya
    23/01/2017 at 3:34 pm

    I have never tried this out. I’m glad I stopped by to learn something new..

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:30 am

      Glad to help Priya – I think that’s the best part about being a food blogger – sharing and discovering so many new things about the world around us. ☺️

  • Reply
    Ruby & Cake
    23/01/2017 at 2:06 pm

    Going to have this with dinner tonight! It looks so delicious and perfect for this hot weather 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:28 am

      Woohoo, you’re in for a treat. Hope you enjoy!

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