What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like

What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?

Despite not being one of the most popular condiments, we think that is about to change in the near future. This sauce is quickly gaining traction in Western countries.

Eel sauce is a delicious fish-free Asian condiment that can be used on pretty much anything! The ways in which you can incorporate it into your recipes are also endless.

What does eel sauce taste like? Eel sauce is very salty and meaty (umami). It has strong salty flavors with milder sweet ones. It is similar to a mixture of BBQ sauce and hoisin sauce.

This post will explore the many aspects of this underrated sauce, including how it’s made, how it should be used, and what it is.

Here are some fun facts about this sauce that might convince you to give it a try!

What Is Eel Sauce? Does It Actually Contain Eels?

In the western world, eel sauce (such as this one from Otafuku) is still a relatively unknown ingredient.

In Japan, however, it is a relatively common ingredient.

There seems to be some controversy surrounding eel sauce.

Originally, this sauce was inspired by a Japanese sauce called nitsume, which involves boiling eels in a broth liquid to make eel broth. So, nitsume does, in some sense, contain eels.

Because most other countries do not have access to Japanese eels (even local eels), a different method was used to mimic the traditional eel sauce.

Even vegan eel sauces, such as the one we linked to above, can still accompany eel dishes and many other fish recipes.

Ingredients Used To Make Eel Sauce

Since Westernized eel sauce does not contain any eels, what is it made of? There is a wide variety of traditional eel sauces, so naturally, there will be a variety of Western recipes as well.

A majority of recipes call for at least these four ingredients; sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.

Other ingredients include eel eggs and fish stock, but these four ingredients make the perfect base recipe.

There are even some that include herbs, but we recommend avoiding them entirely. Herbs will complicate pairings and their flavor will be overpowered.

A thicker consistency and more savory flavor can be achieved by reducing the mixture over low heat after the ingredients have been combined.

Howcast on YouTube has an easy recipe for making your own eel sauce.

What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?

Eel sauces, despite their name, do not contain any eel. They are usually very savory and umami. Imagine combining barbecue sauce and hoisin sauce. That is almost the same taste as your typical Western eel sauce.

You can expect to taste some sweet and salty flavors immediately, along with a hint of smokiness. As we mentioned, it is very umami (meaty).

As a result, it pairs well with virtually any type of fish dish, as well as beef, pork, eggs, and vegetables, too. We love drizzling some homemade eel sauce over our roasted vegetable mix.

If you prefer, you can also use it as a salad dressing or as a dipping sauce on a platter. It’s that versatile!

Since some eel sauce recipes do contain fish stock, you may still get a fishy taste even though the sauce does not contain any eel.

Eel and other fish products should not be included in any recipe you create or store-bought product you buy if you dislike fish’s flavor.

Other Characteristics Of Eel Sauce

Since soy sauce makes up the majority of the recipe, eel sauce has a dark brown color almost like soy sauce.

The base ingredients have been combined and reduced to form an extremely thick and almost sticky texture.

The consistency of eel sauce can be altered at home, but the thicker one is most effective for most purposes, and the flavor is much more concentrated.

Common Flavor Pairings With Eel Sauce

Since eel sauces do not contain fish products, they are much more versatile. If your recipe does contain fish stock or eel reduction, you should limit its use to fish dishes.

Eel sauces today (without fish products) pair very well with fish dishes, especially eel. The sauce has a savory umami flavor that complements strongly flavored fish and crustaceans.

While soy sauce is traditionally used for sushi dipping, more establishments are adding eel sauce to their menu.

It also works well with beef and lamb. The pairings may not be entirely traditional, but because there is no fishiness, they will work well.

Eel sauce is also a wonderful addition to vegetables. We like to pair it with either those with a meaty flavor or filler veggies. Anything that doesn’t have a particularly unique flavor but is still tasty and nutritious is a filler vegetable, such as carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes.

You can choose from eggplant, jack fruit, beets, cauliflower, and mushrooms (yes, they are technically fungi).

You can add this sauce to almost any dish because it’s versatile and pairs well with almost everything.

Among these are pizza, pasta, burgers, chicken wings, steaks, potato wedges, and lots more. Trust us, we’ve tried them all!

How To Use This Sauce

As eel sauce has already been cooked, you can use it as a salad dressing or dipping sauce or incorporate it into other uncooked sauce recipes.

It can also be used as a marinade. If you are happy with the flavor of the sauce, you won’t need to add additional ingredients. However, if you want to play with flavors, you can add some spices and herbs.

As a basting sauce, use low heat and watch the amount of salt you add to your meat. Again, this pairs well with fish, beef, and pork.

In addition, eel sauce is a great way to add flavor to soups and stews. Just replace the salt in the recipe with the eel sauce. Otherwise, the soy sauce will overpower the dish.

The sauce is also great for stir-frying vegetables or meats. You can even add it to Asian noodles!

As we keep emphasizing, this sauce is extremely versatile. Both in terms of where it can be used, how it can be paired, and how it can be incorporated into recipes.

Get yourself some eel sauce right now, or find a recipe that sounds good to you. Trust us, this sauce lasts a long time and will help you spice up cooking!

Related Questions

What is the difference between eel sauce and teriyaki sauce?

There is a common misconception that eel sauce and teriyaki sauce are the same. Eel sauce is less sweet and saltier than teriyaki sauce.

The brown sugar used in teriyaki sauce gives it a more caramel-like flavor than white sugar in eel sauce.

Is eel sauce the same as fish sauce?

There is also a difference between these two sauces as fish sauce is more of a concentrate made from fermented and salted fish.

The traditional eel sauce (made from boiled eel) could be considered a type of fish sauce. Modern eel sauces do not contain any fish products.

Where can you buy eel sauce today?

We have even found Kikkoman Eel Sauce at Walmart. Remember, always make sure that you buy the right type of eel sauce. You can find it online at sites like Amazon.

What is unagi?

The correct alternative name for eel sauce is unagi no tare. Unagi is simply the term used to refer to freshwater Japanese eels, not the sauce itself.

Usually served with eel sauce (unagi no tare), unagi don refers to grilled eel.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *