Ponzu sauce is probably one of the most beloved Japanese condiments out there. It’s tangy, packed with umami, and can be used in a multitude of ways. But have you ever wondered, which ponzu sauce is actually the best? In this article, we’ll cover what ponzu sauce is, what it’s made from, and provide tips for choosing the best one. We’ll also recommend our top 7 favorites.
What Is Ponzu Sauce?
"Ponzu" is a Japanese seasoning created from the juice of citrus fruits like lemon, kabosu, and yuzu. Even though it's a well-known term in Japanese, it actually comes from the Dutch word "pons." It has a straightforward and refreshing taste and is sometimes used with other seasonings.
On the other hand, "ponzu sauce", or “ponzu soy sauce” is a mix of the ponzu sauce we just mentioned and soy sauce. When ponzu sauce comes to mind, this might be the version you’re imagining. In fact, this version is more common in Japan and is often just called "ponzu." Combining soy sauce with ponzu sauce, which is made from citrus fruits and vinegar, results in a versatile condiment that can enhance flavors even when used on its own.
Another great point about ponzu sauce is that it tends to have less salt than regular soy sauce. The vinegar used in ponzu sauce not only boosts the dish's flavor but also allows for a satisfying result with less salt.
What Is Ponzu Sauce Made From?
While many may think that ponzu is a seasoning made by adding soy sauce to citrus juice, it usually contains a few more ingredients. In many cases, brewed vinegar is added to give ponzu a sharper flavor. Dashi stock made from bonito flakes, kombu, and/or shiitake mushrooms is also often added to give the sauce more umami. Finally, mirin or some form of sugar is added to the sauce to give it a well-rounded flavor.
Choosing The Best Ponzu Sauce?
Choosing the best ponzu sauce is ultimately going to come down to your preference. However, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Citrus: When choosing between ponzu sauces, it's important to pay attention to the citrus fruits used. Each citrus brings its own unique aroma and taste that can pair differently with various dishes.
- Sourness: If you are not used to using ponzu soy sauce on a regular basis, or if you like the milder flavor, choosing the type with dashi stock will be easier to get used to.
- Ingredients: When choosing a ponzu sauce, check the ingredients to see if there are any chemical seasonings or additives. For those who want to fully enjoy the umami of the ingredients and the natural refreshingness of citrus fruits, we recommend choosing a ponzu sauce free of chemical seasonings. Just be aware that additive-free products tend to have shorter shelf lives.
The Best 7 Japanese Ponzu Sauces
Without further ado, here are our top picks for the 7 best ponzu sauces out there.
Citrus used: Yuzu
Crafted specifically for dipping, Choko Kakepon Ponzu is infused with the vibrant flavor of yuzu, sourced from Kochi Prefecture. It features an authentic base of light soy sauce, meticulously brewed from whole soybeans. With its light color and subtle taste, it seamlessly enhances the essence of your dishes without overpowering their flavor or altering their color. Choko Kakepon is a great choice for a diverse range of dishes, including yakiniku, shabu-shabu, grilled fish, and hot pot.
Choko Kakepon Ponzu Organic Yuzu Soy Sauce 400ml
Citrus used: Yuzu
This organic yuzu ponzu sauce from Teraoka contains a generous amount of organic yuzu juice. Achieving a well-balanced acidity and flavor, it blends organic yuzu juice, pure rice vinegar, organic sugar, and bonito flakes soup stock along with organic soy sauce to bring this delicious ponzu sauce to life. It has a refreshing yuzu taste that pairs well with hot pot, tofu, and grilled fish dishes.
Teraoka Organic Yuzu Ponzu Sauce 250ml
Citrus(es) used: Yuzu, Sudachi, Daidai, and Yuko
If you’re looking for a more luxurious ponzu sauce, then Suehiro's Premium Citrus Ponzu Soy Sauce is a great choice. This ponzu sauce is a harmonious blend of four exquisite citrus juices and other natural ingredients infused into Suehiro’s high-quality shoyu.
Beyond the citrus infusion, this ponzu is expertly seasoned with mirin, konbu kelp stock, and sugar for a well-rounded and flavorful profile. Overall, this is a great ponzu sauce to use for soups, stews, marinades, and even as a dipping sauce.
Suehiro Premium Citrus Ponzu Japanese Sudachi & Yuzu Ponzu 300ml
Citrus(es) used: Yuzu, Sudachi
Another ponzu sauce that we love is Adachi Organic Yuzu Ponzu Sauce. Adachi's ponzu sauce seamlessly blends the richness of aged shoyu, the tanginess of yuzu, and the umami-packed essence of dashi to craft this delicious sauce.
Crafted with care, this ponzu sauce features high-quality organic shoyu, along with the delightful flavors of yuzu, sudachi, and umami-packed dashi, ensuring a delicious and well-rounded culinary experience. We love using this ponzu sauce for hot pot and as a dipping sauce for gyoza.
Adachi Organic Yuzu Ponzu Sauce 360ml
Citrus(es) used: Yuzu, Iyokan
This unique and spicy ponzu sauce is made by Takesan, a renowned soy sauce manufacturer with a 400-year history in Shodoshima, Kagawa Prefecture, making it a testament to tradition and quality. Carefully selected domestic ingredients, including Hontaka chili peppers from Shodoshima, yuzu juice from Tokushima Prefecture, and Iyokan fruit juice from Aichi Prefecture, contribute to its distinct character. The sauce is notable for its refreshing flavor, heightened by the zing of hot chili peppers. We think this ponzu sauce would work particularly well in dipping sauces or salad dressings.
Takesan Ponzu Green Pepper Spicy Ponzu Sauce 200ml
Citrus used: Yuzu
This particular Kikkoman ponzu is limited to Japan and it’s made by extracting the juice from two whole yuzus. This ponzu boasts abundant juice and a revitalizing yuzu flavor. The yuzu flavor is enhanced by a light in flavor soy sauce, to really let the yuzu flavor come through. Its versatility shines through, making it suitable for an array of dishes, including hotpots, salads, ohitashi, and gyoza.
Kikkoman Yuzuka Yuzu Ponzu Sauce 250ml
Citrus(es) used: Yuzu, Sudachi
Last but certainly not least, this ponzu sauce from vinegar manufacturer Uchibori boasts the bright citrus notes of sudachi and yuzu with this refreshing ponzu sauce. The flavor is elevated by in-house boiled Rishiri kelp and Makurazaki bonito flakes, creating an elegant and well-balanced blend of dashi and citrus fruit juice. It’s the perfect ponzu sauce to use for hot pot and other kinds of soup.
Uchibori Mino Premium Taste Ponzu Sauce 360ml
Have you tried any of the above ponzu sauces? If not, which one is calling your name? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.