Learn how to make your own Japanese Worcestershire sauce at home! This savory, sweet, and tangy sauce is essential for Japanese home cooking.
What is Japanese Worcestershire Sauce?
There are actually three different types of Japanese Worcestershire sauce, all generally referred to as “sauce” (ソース). These sauces are similar in flavor and can be used interchangeably. The main difference is the thickness of the sauce.
Usutā Sauce ウスターソース
Usutā Sauce is the thinnest sauce. It is made from fruits, vegetables, and spices, blended and strained to remove the pulp. With no added starch or flour for thickening, this sauce is very watery and is best for use in sauces, soups, and stews (such as Japanese curry, hayashi rice, or yakisoba sauce).
Chūnō Sauce 中濃ソース
“Chūnō” means medium-thick. It contains some starch so it is thicker than Usuta Sauce. Chūnō Sauce is a good all purpose sauce if you only want to have one kind of Japanese Worcestershire sauce. Since it’s thicker than Usutā Sauce it can be used as a topping for dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, tonkatsu, and korokke, but also works well in curry and stew.
Nōkō Sauce 濃厚ソース
Nōkō Sauce is the thickest of all the sauces. You will often see it sold as “Tonkatsu Sauce” and “Okonomi Sauce” (for okonomiyaki), both of which are categorized as Nōkō Sauce. The main difference between the two is that Okonomi Sauce has dashi — usually from bonito, kombu, mushroom, or meat extract — to add umami.
What is Japanese Sauce made from?
Japanese Worcestershire Sauce is made from fruits, vegetables, spices, and seasonings like sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar.
- Dried Shiitake & Kombu Dashi ⟶ For my Japanese Worcestershire sauce, I like to add shiitake and kombu for extra umami flavor.
- Apples & Sugar ⟶ These provide that characteristic sweetness. You can use any sugar or liquid sweetener you prefer. I think overripe persimmons would also be good in place of the apples.
- Tomatoes ⟶ Tomatoes are packed with umami and form the base of our sauce. Use fresh for the best flavor, but canned works as well.
- Spices ⟶ My favorite spices to use are bay leaves, coriander, oregano, cumin, nutmeg, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, sage, and fennel. Feel free to play around with what you have.
- For reference, the Bull Dog brand uses all spice, cloves, cinnamon, sage, thyme, bay leaves, and fennel.
- Spices I do NOT recommend using are cardamom, cayenne, chili powder, turmeric, and curry powder, as these are quite potent and may overpower the sauce.
- Vinegar ⟶ I use a combination of balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and red wine vinegar. You can use all balsamic for a darker color.
Japanese Worcestershire Sauce FAQ + Tips
How do I store Japanese Worcestershire sauce?
Store your sauce in an airtight jar/bottle in the fridge. You can also freeze the sauce if you don’t think you’ll use it all up in time. I like to pour my sauce into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer the frozen sauce cubes into a freezer bag for easy use.
How long does homemade Japanese Worcestershire sauce last?
This sauce lasts about a month in the fridge, though I’ve kept it for up to 2 months before with no problems. Make sure to keep it tightly sealed and use a clean spoon each time you use some. Always check for mold or off smells, and use fresh ingredients to make the sauce.
Is Japanese Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?
Usutā Sauce is usually gluten-free since it doesn’t contain flour for thickening. Chūnō and Nōkō Sauce are thickened with starch or flour and may contain gluten, so be sure to check the ingredients label. When making your own sauce, you can easily make it gluten-free by using gluten-free all purpose flour, rice flour, or a starch like corn starch or arrowroot starch.
Is Japanese Worcestershire sauce vegan?
Some sauces may contain fish extract. It differs depending on the brand and type of sauce, so always check the ingredients. My go-to store bought sauce is Bull Dog Chuno Sauce.
Use Japanese Worcestershire sauce in these dishes!
- Japanese Curry
- Hayashi Rice
- Eggplant Chana Masala
- Spaghetti Napolitan
It’s a great all purpose sauce to add a hint of sweetness and umami to your meal.
If you try making your own Japanese Worcestershire sauce, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking. I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
Homemade Japanese Worcestershire Sauce | 自家製ウスターソース
Fruits & Veggies
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes** or one 29oz can of tomatoes
- 1 rib of celery
- 1 carrot
- 2 medium apples**
- 1 inch knob of ginger
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 dried shiitake (10g)
- 3 cups kombu dashi**
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 6 tbsp vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, red wine)**
- ¼ cup sweetener of choice**
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- Simmer fruits and veggies: Roughly chop the fruits and veggies and add to a large pot with the dashi. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. If using kombu, remove after 20 minutes of gentle simmering, or sooner if you notice it starting to melt into the sauce.
- Add spices and simmer: Stir in the spices and simmer for another hour.
- Blend: Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to blend everything together, or transfer to a blender in batches. Be careful not to over-blend — you don't want a super smooth mixture — or you won't be able to strain out the pulp effectively.
- Strain: You want to use a very fine mesh strainer to remove as much of the pulp as possible (this will result in a very smooth sauce with a longer shelf life). I recommend using a nut milk bag if possible, but be aware that it will stain your nut milk bag orange/red. Let the mixture cool first until cool enough to handle since you will be using your hands to squeeze out the liquid. (Save the pulp! It's full of fruit and veggie puree and flavor from the spices, great in stews and curries.)
- Add seasonings: Add the strained liquid back to the pot and stir in the seasonings. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Add thickener (optional): For a thicker sauce, mix flour with some cold water (just enough to dissolve the flour) until smooth and no lumps remain. In the last 10 minutes of simmering, add in the flour mixture. Stir frequently until sauce thickens. (Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if you would like a thicker sauce.)
- Cool and Store: If you notice small clumps of flour in your sauce, strain it again before storing. You can just pour it through a fine mesh strainer or sieve. Let cool completely, then transfer to bottles or jars, seal, and store in the fridge for 1-2 months.
- To make it in the Instant Pot, follow the stovetop directions but use these times instead:
- Simmer fruits and veggies: Pressure cook 20 minutes at high pressure, quick release. OR if using kombu, pressure cook 30 minutes at low pressure, quick release, and remove kombu.
- Add spices and simmer: Pressure cook 20 minutes at high pressure, quick release.
- Add seasonings: Sauté on low for 30 minutes.
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