Ponzu is a one of the most popular Japanese sauces mainly served with seafood and used for marinating. It is made of ponzu which is a mix of citrus juice of yuzu, sudachi, vinegar and kabosu, as well as a blend of soy sauce, mirin or sugar, and dashi.
This sauce has a citrusy, tangy and tart flavor. When used as a dipping or marinate, it provides a delicate and mild flavor.
You may find it from Asian stores, but if you can’t get it then check the list of the best substitutes for ponzu sauce to try with many Asian dishes, seafood, meat, simmered dishes, dumplings, noodles and the like.
The best alternatives to ponzu sauce are worcestershire sauce, nam prik pla, soy sauce with vinegar, soy sauce with lemon, shoyu, mentsuyu with fruit vinegar, yuzu kosho, kombu ponzu sauce and homemade ponzu sauce.
Best substitutes for Ponzu Sauce To Try
1. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is between the most popular sauces that you can find from common grocery stores. Its base is vinegar and the additional flavors and seasonings include anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion and garlic.
Due to tamarind and vinegar it carries citrus notes and tastes sour, which makes it a good alternative to ponzu sauce. Sweet and spicy seasonings make it taste complex and rich.
2. Nam Prik Pla
Nam prik pla is a dipping sauce from Thai cuisine. Since it’s another Asian sauce, it comes with many similarities and can be used instead of ponzu sauce in Asian dishes and not only.
It’s made of fish sauce, chopped chilies and sliced garlic. It tastes salty, slightly sour, sweet and tangy. Nam prik pla goes well with any kind of seafood and savory meat dishes. You can use it with skewers and rolls too.
3. Soy Sauce + Vinegar
Soy sauce and vinegar is one of the easiest substitutes for ponzu sauce. It tastes sour and tangy thanks to vinegar, and soy sauce makes it look like ponzu as well as works well with Asian dishes and seafood.
Soy sauce and vinegar makes a perfect match with dumplings, sushi, stir-fries and salads. It’s a versatile-style of sauce to use with many dishes.
4. Soy Sauce + Lemon
Another good combination is soy sauce and lemon juice. It works in case you definitely want to have the sourness in the dish. Both soy sauce and lemon go well with Asian dishes, seafood and even poultry.
Soy sauce and lemon also carry a citrusy taste and look like ponzu sauce due to the dark color of soy sauce. You can use it as a dressing for salads too.
Shoyu is the Japanese style sauce and if you have it in hand you can use it instead of ponzu sauce to season salads, stir-fries, rice dishes and seafood. Shoyu contains fermented soybeans, wheat, salt and water.
If you also have vinegar or lemon juice add it to shoyu and the flavor will be closer to pondzu’s flavor.
6. Mentsuyu + Fruit Vinegar
Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base mostly used with noodles. It’s made of soy sauce, sake, mirin, kombu, dashi and dried bonito flakes. It tastes very delicate with savory dishes.
Its base is somehow similar to ponzu sauce’s base and you can use it in many dishes to replace ponzu sauce.
In order to make it taste sour like ponzu sauce, you can add fruit vinegar or lemon juice. You can use it with noodles like soba and udon as well as with ramen, Japanese soups and broths.
7. Yuzu Kosho
Yuzu is a tart and tangy citrus fruit native to East Asia. Yuzu kosho is a mixture of the zest and juice of this fruit that’s fermented in salt. Additional ingredients are fresh chilies that make it taste spicy and slightly bitter.
Overall, it brings a citrusy, sour and spicy flavor that works with almost the same dishes that call for ponzu sauce. You can consider it if you like to pair spicy condiments with seafood, noodles, salads and other meals.
8. Kombu Ponzu Sauce
Kombu ponzu sauce is made of kelp seaweed, dashi and citrus juice. This bunch of flavors creates a similar taste to classic ponzu sauce. It has a dark color and a mellow taste. It’s a dipping sauce used with sushi, gyoza and sashimi.
You can consider it as a salad dressing, dipping for dumplings, spring rolls, fish and other seafood.
9. Homemade Ponzu Sauce
Although it’s not easy to find all the ingredients of ponzu sauce to make it, we offer a homemade recipe for it. Perhaps, you have all the ingredients in hand and can make it at home. So, you need the following ingredients:
2 tablespoon of rice vinegar
3 tablespoon of mirin
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 strip of kombu
2 tablespoon of bonito flakes
¼ Citrus juice: yuzu is the best option but grapefruit or lemon juice can also work.
How to Make:
Put all, except citrus juice, in a pan and cook over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it cool. Add the citrus juice. Store in a container and keep in the fridge.
FAQs on Ponzu Sauce
How long does ponzu sauce keep?
You can keep a sealed and well-stored container of homemade ponzu sauce in the fringe for up to 1 week.
Is there fish in ponzu sauce?
The classical recipe of ponzu sauce calls for bonito fish flakes. You can buy it from Asian stores.
Is ponzu sauce gluten free?
Ponzu sauce contains soy sauce which, in turn, contains wheat and therefore it’s not gluten-free. However, some brands produce ponzu sauces made with wheat-free tamari soy sauce. So, read the label before buying.
Is ponzu sauce spicy?
It generally tastes tart-tangy resembling vinaigrette but there are brands that produce spicy varieties too. You may again read the label before buying.
If you don’t have the possibility to purchase ponzu sauce from Asian stores, there are possible substitutes for ponzu sauce that you may either have in hand or buy from local grocery stores. If you often eat Asian food or seafood, then this sauce is worth trying. So, consider making it at home too.