Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Japanese/ Recipes

The Ultimate All Rounder Umami Sauce

05/05/2022

Try our handcrafted recipe for umami sauce, made with a blend of umami-packed ingredients like soy, miso and katsuobushi. This sweet and salty sauce is ready to bring huge savoury flavour to your cooking.

A dark umami sauce, with basted tofu slices in the background.

Why We Love This

Ready in minutes, this thick, glossy umami sauce is a great all purpose seasoning sauce. A little goes a long way – just a splash will add a new depth of savoury flavour to your cooking.

It’s super versatile and goes with just about anything, from Japanese okonomiyaki and takoyaki to soups, stews, noodles and everything in between.

Follow the recipe below as written, or use our variation ideas to experiment and make your own umami-rich creation.

Thick umami sauce ready to cook with!

What is Umami Sauce? 

Umami sauce is a concentrated blend of ingredients such as soy sauce, dashi and miso paste that are well known for their umami flavour.

The sauce is a quick and easy way to add well rounded savoury richness to otherwise bland dishes, instead of adding extra salt or stock liquid.

We love using it to baste proteins such as chicken or tofu, and then popping them into a sushi bowl. It also makes a good stir fry sauce, stirred through at the last minute through your meat and veggies, then served piping hot.

What You’ll Need

  • Soy Sauce – For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce brand such as Kikkoman which has the perfect balance of flavour and salt without being too salty.
  • Mirin – A sweet rice wine for cooking. You can sometimes find it in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online. Sub with 2 tbsp sugar if you need.
  • Cornstarch – This helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Garlic – Freshly chopped or minced. 
  • Bonito Flakes (Katusobushi) – To kick up the umami flavour even further! They also add a slight texture to the sauce which we love. Sub with a splash of dashi stock or just leave them out. 
  • White Miso Paste – White miso is sweeter than darker varieties of miso, making it a perfect addition to balance the sweet and salty flavours of umami sauce. You can use red miso if that’s all you have on hand, or sub with Vegemite or Marmite.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Popular brands are Lea & Perrins or Japanese Bulldog brand, or you can make your own Worcestershire sauce blend. Sub with tomato sauce / ketchup if you prefer. 
  • Sesame Oil – Adds depth and nuttiness.
Umami tofu slices with a small dish of sauce.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Consistency – This sauce is intentionally thick, similar in consistency to oyster sauce. If you prefer it a little runnier, you can stir in a little extra water, soy sauce or dashi stock to get it how you like it. 
  • Avoid Burning – As it has a high sugar ratio, the sauce will burn if you have the heat set too high, so we recommend using it AFTER cooking.

FAQs

How do I use umami sauce?

This sauce is best used as a basting or finishing sauce. Use it as a dipping sauce, stir fry sauce, basted over grilled meats, vegetables or tofu. It’s amazing over chicken katsu! Since it’s pre-cooked and already so thick, it’s not really intended as a marinade.

Is umami sauce the same as miso?

While umami flavour notes are in miso paste, umami sauce is not the same as miso. It does have miso paste in it to add flavour, but they are completely separate condiments.

Variations

  • Make it Spicy – Add a tablespoon of Korean gochujang (chilli paste) or gochugaru (chilli flakes) to taste.
  • Add Citrus – Try it with a splash of lemon juice, lime juice or yuzu, similar to ponzu sauce.
  • Make it Sweeter – Add more sugar or mirin if you like a more mellow taste while still keeping the full flavour profile.
  • More Intensity! – If you want even more umami goodness, you can experiment with more flavours that contain glutamate, such as Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce or our favourite – Vegemite (or Marmite)!
Bowl of umami sauce topped with katsuobushi flakes.

Make these umami packed dishes next:

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

A white dish filled with umami sauce.

The Ultimate All Rounder Umami Sauce

Try our handcrafted recipe for umami sauce, made with a blend of umami-packed ingredients like soy, miso and katsuobushi. This sweet and salty sauce is ready to bring huge savoury flavour to your cooking.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Basics, Condiment
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 1 Jar
Calories: 197kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the soy sauce, mirin, Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch in a small dish and whisk together until there are no lumps.
    4 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Place garlic and vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to lightly fry for 30 seconds – 1 minute until fragrant and garlic pieces turn light brown.
    2 garlic, 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Pour in the sauce mix and katsuobushi. Whisk together for a few minutes, until the sauce thickens, then switch off the heat.
    1 tbsp bonito flakes / katsuobushi
  • Add in your sesame oil and white miso paste and stir until combined. Use straight away or store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.
    ½ tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp white miso paste

Recipe Notes

  • Consistency – This sauce is intentionally thick, similar in consistency to oyster sauce. If you prefer it a little runnier, you can stir in a little extra water, soy sauce or dashi stock to get it how you like it. 
  • Avoid Burning – As it has a high sugar ratio, the sauce will burn if you have the heat set too high, so we recommend using it AFTER cooking.
  • Make it Spicy – Add a tablespoon of Korean gochujang (chilli paste) or gochugaru (chilli flakes) to taste.
  • Add Citrus – Try it with a splash of lemon juice, lime juice or yuzu, similar to ponzu sauce.
  • Make it Sweeter – Add more sugar or mirin if you like a more mellow taste while still keeping the full flavour profile.
  • More Intensity! – If you want even more umami goodness, you can experiment with more flavours that contain glutamate, such as Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce or our favourite – Vegemite (or Marmite)!

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
The Ultimate All Rounder Umami Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
197
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
2
g
3
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
1
mg
0
%
Sodium
 
4749
mg
206
%
Potassium
 
326
mg
9
%
Carbohydrates
 
38
g
13
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
15
g
17
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
Vitamin A
 
17
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
45
mg
5
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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
The Ultimate All Rounder Umami Sauce

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