Order Meals
Home > Recipes > Reduced Sodium Japanese BBQ Sauce
Author:

Kevin Curry

Reduced Sodium Japanese BBQ Sauce

Want to save this recipe?

I got you! Just enter your email address, and I'll forward it to your inbox! Plus, you'll receive a bonus of healthful, "must-try" recipes each week!

Recently, I came across a delicious Japanese BBQ sauce in the grocery store.

While it was delicious, I was unhappy about two main things: 1) it was too salty for my tastes, and 2) the $10 price tag.

So I decided to make it myself because it is so easy!

While there are popular sauces used in Japanese cuisine for marinating and grilling meats, such as “tare” and Tonkatsu, I wanted to create a sauce that is reminiscent of traditional American BBQ sauce in terms of texture but exaggerates the differences in flavor.

 

What is in Japanese BBQ Sauce?

My copycat Japanese BBQ sauce recipe includes the usual suspects of nearly any Asian meal –

  • low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • mirin
  • (coconut) sugar
  • garlic
  • rice vinegar
  • ginger

Traditional American BBQ sauce commonly contains ingredients like ketchup or tomato sauce, ACV (apple cider vinegar), brown sugar or molasses, paprika, chili powder, mustard and oftentimes Worcestershire sauce or liquid smoke.

To make it more reminiscent of American BBQ sauce I added tomato paste instead of ketchup. This helped with texture (thickness) and the subtle acidity and sweetness of the sauce.

 

What does Japanese BBQ sauce taste like?

This BBQ sauce tends to have a more savory-salty-sweet flavor profile with a rich umami taste – ie, mouthwatering taste – because of the tamari and mirin.

It’s balanced with a hint of sweetness and tang from the vinegar. Traditional American BBQ sauce is similar with a sweet and tangy flavor so this was a perfect combination of flavors.

 

How do you use Japanese BBQ sauce?

Use it the same way you would traditional BBQ sauce! A marinade, condiment or dipping sauce, particularly for dishes like yakitori (grilled skewered chicken), yakiniku (grilled meat), and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake).

Traditional American BBQ sauce is typically brushed onto meats during cooking or served as a condiment alongside grilled or smoked meats such as salmon (see below), ribs, veggies, brisket, or chicken. Treat this sauce the exact same way!

It is noteworthy that MY version has considerable less sodium and less sugar per serving than what is generally offered.

Since I do not use molasses or tons of sugar, my Japanese BBQ sauce tends to have a thinner consistency which actually makes it more versatile – you can make it thick and sticky or even more pourable depending on the recipe usage.

Show full recipe

Reduced Sodium Japanese BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

15 Servings
Serving Size:1 tablespoon (18g)
* Optional Substitution Note
Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium tamari
    • low sodium soy sauce; liquid aminos
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 heaping tablespoons coconut sugar
    • brown sugar, cane sugar, stevia
  • 2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • white vinegar, ACV
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped or cut
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Slurry
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot + 2 tablespoons water
    • cornstarch

Tools

Click tools for recommendations

Steps

Step 1

Add sauce ingredients to a blender OR a tall cup and use an immersion blender.

Process until smooth and season to taste according to your preferences. However, be mindful of more calorie-dense ingredients such as sesame oil, coconut sugar, and/or tamari.

Step 2

Pour the sauce into a nonstick skillet and set on medium heat.

Bring to a gentle simmer until small bubbles form (almost like foam), and the sauce turns shiny.  Stir using a silicon or wooden spoon and reduce the heat if necessary—it should not be boiling.

In a separate bowl, mix together arrowroot and water to create a slurry.

Step 3

Reduce the heat in the skillet and/or remove it from the heat. Pour in the slurry and stir immediately and continuously so the arrowroot does not clump and the sauce does not become slimy.

Pro-tip: if the skillet is very hot and the sauce is boiling, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before adding arrowroot.  This should result in an even sauce, not slimy or clumpy.

Step 4

Store in the fridge and use as a condiment for meals and/or as a sauce for protein.

For instance, I decided to smoke salmon and baste it the final 1 hour of smoking about every 15- 20 minutes.

Should last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (but I seriously doubt it will last that long – it’s that delicious). 

And remember, you can use this BBQ sauce in nearly any recipe that calls for a saucy condiment, such as this BBQ salmon pizza on naan.

bbq salmon pizza

Copycat Japanese BBQ Sauce

Kevin Curry


Prep 5min
Cook 10min
Total 15min

Category Meal Prep
# of servings15
Calories 40

Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium tamari
    • low sodium soy sauce; liquid aminos
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 heaping tablespoons coconut sugar
    • brown sugar, cane sugar, stevia
  • 2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • white vinegar, ACV
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped or cut
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Slurry
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot + 2 tablespoons water
    • cornstarch

  1. Add sauce ingredients to a blender OR a tall cup and use an immersion blender.

    Process until smooth and season to taste according to your preferences. However, be mindful of more calorie-dense ingredients such as sesame oil, coconut sugar, and/or tamari.

  2. Pour the sauce into a nonstick skillet and set on medium heat.

    Bring to a gentle simmer until small bubbles form (almost like foam), and the sauce turns shiny.  Stir using a silicon or wooden spoon and reduce the heat if necessary—it should not be boiling.

    In a separate bowl, mix together arrowroot and water to create a slurry.

  3. Reduce the heat in the skillet and/or remove it from the heat. Pour in the slurry and stir immediately and continuously so the arrowroot does not clump and the sauce does not become slimy.

    Pro-tip: if the skillet is very hot and the sauce is boiling, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before adding arrowroot.  This should result in an even sauce, not slimy or clumpy.

  4. Store in the fridge and use as a condiment for meals and/or as a sauce for protein.

    For instance, I decided to smoke salmon and baste it the final 1 hour of smoking about every 15- 20 minutes.

    Should last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (but I seriously doubt it will last that long – it’s that delicious). 

    And remember, you can use this BBQ sauce in nearly any recipe that calls for a saucy condiment, such as this BBQ salmon pizza on naan.

    bbq salmon pizza

Nutrition per serving

Calories40cal
Protein1g
Fats2g
Carbs4g
Sodium170mg
Sugar4g
0
(Based on 0 reviews)

Reviews

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

Rate the recipe:

Details

Prep 5min
Cook 10min
Total 15min
# of servings15
Serving Size:1 tablespoon (18g)

Nutrition per serving

Calories40cal
Protein1g
Fats2g
Carbs4g
Sodium170mg
Sugar4g
About Kevin - author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey, I'm Kevin

My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.

By experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my meals on Tumblr, I learned healthy eating is not boring! By making a few adjustments to my favorite foods, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my wellness goals while satisfying my desire for BANGIN food! 😅 Now I try to help people around the world realize that same level of freedom in eating regardless of budget. Welcome, let's #DemocratizeWellness together!