Quick Rich Brown Shoyu Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Many of you are familiar with the rich, brown, slightly sweet shoyu-based sauce that is used to baste broiled eel. The sauce is called tsume and is made from very basic ingredients. Commercially prepared tsume may contain some chemical ingredients, including monosodium glutamate, so it is better to prepare your own sauce from scratch using the quick and easy recipe below. This version has no eel flavor because it does not use the leftover eel cooking stock of the traditional recipe.



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, salty, savory, sweet, umami, winey

Type of Dishsauces


  • ½ cup mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • ¼ cup sake (rice wine)
  • ¼ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 akatogarashi (Japanese dried red chile peppers)


Pour the mirin and sake into a small saucepan, set it over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Add the shoyu, sugar, garlic, and red chile pepper and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool. Store the sauce in a clean jar with a lid. The next day, remove the garlic (but leave the red chile pepper). The sauce keeps several months in the refrigerator.



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