Lightly smoky and full of umami, Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base used in a multitude of noodle dishes. You can easily make it at home with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
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Mentsuyu (めんつゆ), or sometimes called Tsuyu (つゆ), is a Japanese soup base commonly used in soba and udon noodle dishes. Made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), the flavor is delicate yet intensely savory.
What is Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) for?
In Japan, we use Mentsuyu as a basic sauce or broth to flavor everything from noodle dishes, rice bowls, hot pots to tempura dipping sauce.
The multipurpose sauce gets a real depth of flavor and smokiness from the use of kombu and bonito flakes. As it happens, these two ingredients are the elementary components to make dashi – the Japanese soup stock that characterize the distinct flavor of Japanese food.
In this recipe, soy sauce contributes to the savory tones, and mirin imparts sweetness that ties everything together.
Making Mentsuyu at home is as easy as combining all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer down to a concentrated sauce. You can store it in a mason jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. The sauce will come in handy when you need it to season your favorite noodle dishes.
When ready to use, you just need to thin it out with water! The ratios of Mentsuyu to water will differ depending on the recipes.
Hot Noodle Soup
To use Mentsuyu in a hot noodle soup, dilute it with water, heat it up, then pour over boiled noodles. This hot noodle soup broth is called Kaketsuyu (かけつゆ).
Cold Noodle Dipping Sauce
The Mentsuyu is diluted with water (sometimes no need to dilute), then serve with chilled noodles. This dipping sauce is called Tsuketsuyu (つけつゆ).
Store-Bought Mentsuyu Bottles
For convenience, you can purchase pre-made Mentsuyu from Japanese (or Asian) grocery stores or online.
Each brand has different instructions for diluting the Metsuyu. Find the usage guide on the bottle that looks like this. You can learn more about the Ratio of Tsuyu to Water on this page.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
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You can also use Mentsuyu in these recipes:
Cold Tanuki Udon
Mushroom and Tuna Japanese Style Pasta
Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)
Negitoro & Avocado Donburi