20 Japanese Seasonings and Sauces You Should Know

Japanese food lovers, have you ever wondered why Japanese foods taste so good and unique? While most of the seasonings in Japan are based on miso and soy sauce, there are so many others. Let's take a look at the seasonings, sauces and toppings you might find in or together with your favorite Japanese food.


Food & Drinks

1. Miso (Soybean paste)

One of the basic Japanese seasonings, Miso is made from soybeans, salt and koji. Koji is a type of fermented rice, but it also sometimes made from barley, beans or wheat.

2. Shoyu (Soy sauce)


Craig Kohtz/Flickr 

Most commonly used seasoning, you will see soy sauce on tables in almost all the restaurants in Japan.


3. Su (Rice vinegar)


In Japan, the rice vinegar has a higher acidity and flavor. There are two types of rice vinegar dressings – nihaizu (adding either soy sauce or salt) and sanbaizu (adding soy sauce and sugar).

4. Mirin (Sweet rice wine)

Marta Miranda/Flickr

Mirin is used for sweet vegetable stew such as Nikujaga (potato stew with beef) and Teriyaki sauce. If you are not in Japan and it is difficult to find mirin, you can just add sugar and mild rice wine in place of it.


5. Nikiri (Sweet soysauce)

Kirk K/Flickr 

A lightly sweetened soy sauce used for glazing fish.


6. Ryorishu (Rice Wine – Sake)

Wally Gobetz/Flickr 

Sake is often used for cooking too. Ryorishu is not tasty as a sake but it is mild and gives stew dishes flavour. It is often used for Nimono (vegetable stew) and Sakamushi (sake steam dish) .


7. Dashishoyu / Tsuyu (Fish-flavoured soysauce)

 Toshihiro Gamo/Flickr

This sauce can be used for various Japanese noodle dish such as Soba, Somen and Udon.


8. Goma (sesame oil)

Karashi is Japanese hot yellow mustard, hotter than even English mustard. To make it no vinegar is added, so there is no sour aftertaste. You add water to make a paste. It is sold prepared in tubes or powdered. It is usually served with oden, and some dumplings, and to add zing to some sauces.


10. Wasabi


Wasabi is a root vegetable known in English as Japanese horseradish. It is most famous in the grated form of a green paste used as condiment for sashimi (raw seafood) and sushi. However, wasabi is also used for many other Japanese dishes.


Mentsuyu is Japanese soup base used in soba and udon noodle dishes. It's made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).


Ponzu basically means various citrus juices. The sour sauce made by mixing citrus juice with soy sauce and other ingredients is called ponzu shoyu or ponzu sauce. The citrus-based sauce is most commonly used for grilled meat or fish, but it's also a common dip for sashimi or hot pot-style dishes like shabu shabu.


Rayu is a spicy red oil that is never far at hand at ramen shops or anywhere that the fried or steamed dumplings called gyoza are served.


14. Warishita



Warishita is a sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, dashi soup stock and sweet sake. It is usually used in preparing sukiyaki.

15. Ichimi togarashi

Often used in hot soba, Ichimi togarashi is simply made from whole hot red chili peppers. The chilis are ground, including the seeds.

16. Furikake


Masafumi Iwai/Flickr

A dry condiment, furikake is made from a mixture of sesame seeds, seaweed, dried and ground fish, sugar and salt. It is usually sprinkled on the top of your steamed rice.

17. Mayonnaise


Oh yes, the Japanese love mayonnaise. You can find mayonnaise on top of your rice, grilled chicken and so on.

18. Menma


Masafumi Iwai/Flickr

Made from dried bamboo, Menma is commonly used as a topping for your ramen.

Also known as “Japanese-style dressing”, wafu dressing is made of soy sauce, vegetable oil and rice vinegar.

20. Nitsume (Eel Sauce)

Nitsume is a Japanese sauce used with eel, octopus and shrimp. It is made from eel broth, mirin, soy sauce and sugar, reduced by about one-third through slow simmering.



The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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