What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?


Quick Answer: What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?  

Eel sauce has a primary sweet taste with additional salty, smoky, and a distinct umami flavor. This savory combination of flavors makes it perfect as a barbeque sauce and can be used on a vast range of platters. 

This vivid taste guide describes to you exactly what to expect when tasting Eel Sauce. 

Let’s savor the umami on our palettes! 

What Is Eel Sauce?

Eel Sauce, also known as Unagi, is a native Japanese sauce used in a majority of Japanese and East Asian cuisines.

This dark brown sauce is usually served on grilled eel, on a bed of rice in dishes such as unadon and kabayaki. 

The sauce is prepared with soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake.

The traditional Japanese Eel Sauce makers add eel broth to it, but it is not added to most store-bought packs.

What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like?

Eel sauce has a predominately sweet taste with savory and umami flavors infused with this sweetness. It is also salty and slightly smoky. It is seen mostly in Japanese cuisines with grilled eel fish and marinated rice. 

The ingredients mirin, sake, and sugar make it a very candied and thick sauce.

The soy sauce balances the sugary taste with salty and rich umami flavors. Eel sauce is a great addition to barbeque and any platter with eel fish in it. 

In traditional Japanese cuisines, experts use eel stock or store-bought fish stalk to obtain its characteristic rich flavor with sake and mirin.

Sake is authentic Japanese rice wine.

Mirin is another alcoholic component but sweeter than sake and has lesser alcohol content compared to mirin.

Here’s an easy recipe to make Eel sauce at home.

What Is The Texture Of Eel Sauce Like?

Eel Sauce or Unagi has a sweet and sticky texture characteristic of any sugary sauce. When enjoying the sauce with any food, it has a smooth and soft texture, similar to honey. The consistency of store-bought eel sauce might differ from the consistency of homemade eel sauce.

When prepared Eel Sauce is heated, it is important to not over-heat it as the sauce may burn and get charred resulting in a butter sauce. The excessive sugar in the sauce may cause it to burn.

Is Eel Sauce Made From Eels?

The Eel Sauce that most of us have tasted does not contain any eel fish or eel broth in it. Therefore it is not made from eels. The traditional recipe has had some changes and does not contain any fish broth in it.

The bottled Eel sauce that we know of was inspired by the authentic Japanese Sauce Nitsume which contains eel broth in it. But the Americanized sauce does not contain fish remnants.

Is Eel Sauce Spicy?

Eel sauce is not meant to be spicy as it does not incorporate any spicy ingredients. The soy sauce used in making eel sauce has a salty and umami flavor which is balanced out by the sweet mirin, sake, and white sugar. 

Eel sauce has a honeyed sweet taste that has no reason to be spicy.

The overall taste of the dish may be spicy depending on what the sauce is served with.

Does Eel Sauce Taste Fishy?

Eel Sauce does not have a fishy taste or smell as it does not have any fish parts used to prepare it. Although the name suggests so, the sauce itself only uses four simple ingredients of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar to make. The sauce is mostly sweet and has a strong umami flavor. 

The name is derived from Unagi, which is the Japanese fresh-water eel used to make eel sushi.

The eel sauce is most often served with this sushi and got its name through tradition and repetition.

Is Eel Sauce An Acquired Taste?

Eel Sauce is not known to be an acquired taste as most have reported loving its taste since their very first time. It may take a few trials for some to get used to the umami flavor found in most Japanese sauces. 

The sauce may overwhelm most if tasted by itself with its very sweet and prominent umami flavors.

But most people who have tasted and are used to Japanese cuisine find it easy to like from the very first time.

Does Eel Sauce Taste Like Teriyaki Sauce?

Although both Eel sauce and Teriyaki sauce are well-known Japanese sauces, they are not the same and have noticeable differences when tasted. Eel sauce is much sweeter compared to Teriyaki sauce.

They share the same ingredient of soy sauce but Eel sauce used white sugar while Teriyaki sauce used brown sugar.

Teriyaki sauce also incorporates garlic and other strong ingredients that are not used for Eel sauce.

What Is The Difference Between Eel Sauce And Oyster Sauce?

Eel Sauce and Oyster Sauce are vastly different in their taste, ingredients, and consistency. While Eel sauce is not usually made using eel fish, the Oyster sauce is made from natural oyster juices. They are both sugar, and sometimes salt. 

Eel sauce is mostly served with sushi or eel fish platters while Oyster sauce is usually served with meat, vegetables, and in Chinese cuisines.

They cannot be used as substitutes for each other because of their difference in taste.

What Does Eel Sauce Taste Like With Sushi?

Eel Sauce is most often served with Eel fish sushi, tempura fried sushi roll, simple California rolls, or any preferred sushi. The sugary sweet Eel Sauce is eaten along with wasabi sauce when taking the bite of sushi to have all the delicate flavors together all in one bite.

The effortless flavors of any sushi roll are paired perfectly with Eel sauce and wasabi to give a rich sweet umami relish.

The authentic Japanese eel sushi with eel sauce!

What Tastes Best With Eel Sauce?

Eel Sauce is most often served with eel fish-based dishes like grilled eel or with a variety of sushi platters. This sweet Japanese sauce can also be served with grilled or barbequed vegetables, on pizza, like BBQ sauce with pulled pork or chicken.

Eel Sauce can also be an efficient marinade for steak, and also a great garnish on burgers. It can also be used simply as a dipping sauce.

In The End

I hope that this elaborate journey to the land of Eel Sauce!

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About Barbara Foster

Barbara is a traveler who has traveled to more than 25 countries. She loves the variety of food she gets to experience on her trips and maintains detailed journals of her travels which she plans to publish as a book someday. She loves to bake. Her favorite cuisines are Italian, French, and Mexican.

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