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TIP OF THE DAY: Ponzu Sauce

ponzu-fotoosvanrobin-flickriver-230
Ponzu sauce. Photo © Fotoos Van Robin |
Flickriver.
 

Following our recent endorsement of rice vinegar as an everyday condiment is this one for ponzu sauce.

Ponzu is a thin, dark brown citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Often mixed with soy sauce (shoyu), it is a popular all-purpose condiment and dipping sauce.

If you’ve ordered tempura in a Japanese restaurant, it was likely served with a small dish of ponzu.

Ponzu sauce is traditionally made with rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine), katsuobushi (bonito tuna flakes) and konbu (seaweed). Some recipes use saké, a less sweet rice wine with a higher alcohol content.

The ingredients are simmered and strained, and then citrus is added, typically yuzu, a bitter orange, or sudachi, a mandarin. (You can use lemon if you’re making it at home.)

USES FOR PONZU SAUCE

Mark Bittman of The New York Times calls it the rough equivalent of vinaigrette.

Ponzu is an attractive condiment with both Western cuisine and its native Eastern cuisine. We recently substituted it for malt vinegar with French fries, and instead of mignonette sauce with oysters on the half shell.

 
More ways to enjoy ponzu sauce:

  • With cooked and raw fish or seafood (try it with tataki, sashimi or a raw bar; it’s great with lightly-grilled fish and as a ceviche marinade.
  • With broiled or grilled beef, pork or poultry (baste with it).
  • As a dipping sauce for anything, from dumplings and tempura to nabemono and shabu-shabu from the East, to crudités and French fries from the West.
  • In marinades.
  • In stir-frys and stews (add during the last few minutes of cooking).
  • Instead of Worcestershire sauce in recipes.
  • Mixed into a dressing (with a little olive oil) for salads or cooked vegetables.
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    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PONZU SAUCE

    This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman. It presumes you won’t have access to yuzu juice and uses commonly-available citrus. But in many cities, bottled yuzu juice (another of our favorite condiments) is readily available at specialty food stores and Asian markets.

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup quality soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (or 1/4 cup saké and 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 3-inch piece kelp (konbu)
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/4 ounce) dried bonito flakes
  • Pinch cayenne

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 2 hours or overnight to let flavors meld.

    2. STRAIN before using. Refrigerated in an airtight container, ponzu will keep for at several days.

  •   ponzu-bottle-yakamiorchard-230
    Yakami Orchard makes very high quality Ponzu. Nicely packaged, it makes a fine gift for a good cook. You can buy it online. Photo courtesy Yakami Orchard.
     

    PONZU VS. CHIRIZU SAUCE

    Chirizu is a spicier variation of ponzu, made with daikon, lemon juice, saké, scallions, soy sauce and shichimi togarashi, a table spice made of seven ingredients, including red pepper (togarishi) and sansho pepper pods (which provide heat).

    It can be served with stronger-flavored sashimi that hold up to the heat (mackerel instead of fluke, for example); as well as with fried fish.

    Here’s a recipe if you’d like to make your own.
      




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