Tare: why this unique Japanese sauce is so amazing
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There’s a special sauce used when grilling foods for Japanese barbecue. It has a dark brown color similar to soy sauce, but it’s not the same thing. So what is it?
Japanese tare sauce is the perfect mixture of sweet and savory flavors. It’s made from various ingredients and used by hibachi chefs to tenderize and glaze grilled meats and seafood or added to soups like ramen.
In this guide, I’ll explain what tare sauce is, how it’s used, and share a brief history of this umami sauce.
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In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is Japanese tare sauce?
- 2 How to make tare
- 3 How to use tare sauce
- 4 Tare FAQ’s
- 4.1 What is the best pairing to use with tare?
- 4.2 Where to buy tare?
- 4.3 How long can you keep tare?
- 4.4 What’s tare in ramen?
- 4.5 What’s beef tare?
- 4.6 Is tare sauce vegan?
- 4.7 Is tare sauce gluten-free?
- 4.8 Is tare sauce keto?
- 4.9 Is tare sauce healthy?
- 4.10 What’s the tare-ramen relation?
- 4.11 What’s the difference between tare and soy sauce?
- 4.12 What’s the difference between tare sauce and teriyaki sauce?
- 4.13 Where to eat tare?
- 4.14 Is tare sauce vegan?
- 5 Conclusion
What is Japanese tare sauce?
Tare is a Japanese sauce used as a meat glaze or dipping sauce, and it’s made of soy sauce, sake, mirin, and brown sugar.
It’s often used in yakitori restaurants to give the chicken skewers a nice glaze.
There are many types of Japanese glazes and dipping sauces used for a variety of purposes, but tare is one of the most fundamental.
It is used as both a glaze and a dipping sauce and can be found in a great many Japanese dishes.
The word “tare” comes from the Japanese word for “drip.” This is likely because the sauce is often used as a glaze and allowed to drip down the food.
The word can also be written as “taire” or “ta-re.” It is pronounced “the-ray.”
Tare sauce is a key ingredient in yakitori, a popular Japanese dish consisting of skewers of chicken that are grilled over a charcoal fire.
The chicken is marinated in tare sauce before being skewered and cooked. The skewers are then dipped in tare sauce before being served.
Tare looks similar to shoyu (soy sauce) and teriyaki sauce, so it’s often mistaken for one of the two. However, the tare sauce recipe is unique because it uses
What is tare sauce made of?
Tare is made from a variety of ingredients, but the most common are:
- soy sauce
- brown sugar
All the ingredients are combined and cooked until the desired consistency is achieved. The resulting sauce can be used immediately or stored for later use.
Types of tare
There are four main types of tare sauce:
- Shoyu tare: Soy sauce is the main ingredient in this type of tare. This type of tare is often used for cooking ramen, too, not just bbq. It’s not as salty as shio tare, but it has a classic umami taste.
- Shio tare: This is the most common type of tare and is made with shoyu, sake, mirin, and salt. It has a salty flavor with a hint of sweetness. It’s mostly a salt-based sauce and can often contain more than one type of salt.
- Miso tare: As the name suggests, this type of tare contains miso paste. It is made by combining shoyu, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and miso paste. The result is a tare with a strong umami flavor.
- Kuromitsu tare: This tare is made with shoyu, mirin, sake, and kuromitsu (a type of molasses).
There are variations of tare sauce all across Japan. Other ingredients can be mixed in for an added boost of umami flavor.
A spice powder called togarashi is also added because it enhances the aromas of Japanese food.
Ponzu sauce, Goma, and even thick molasses-like sauces like kuromitsu can be combined with the tare ingredients to create a uniquely flavored tare sauce recipe.
What is the origin of tare?
Tare originates from yakitori, a popular Japanese dish of skewered and grilled chicken.
The first yakitori restaurants were likely opened in the early 1800s, and they would have used tare sauce as a marinade for the chicken as well as a dipping sauce.
The dish quickly gained popularity and can now be found all across Japan.
All of the ingredients that make up tare sauce have long been an essential part of Japanese cooking, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the sauce.
The word “tare” first appears in Japanese literature in the 17t century, but the sauce itself is likely much older.
Health benefits of tare
Tare isn’t the healthiest sauce out there. It contains sodium and glutamic acid, also known as the infamous MSG.
MSG has been controversial because it can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness in some people.
However, glutamic acid combined with the salt is what gives food its distinct umami flavor that people just can’t get enough of.
So, while tare might not be the healthiest sauce, it does have a delicious flavor that can enhance your meals.
The sugar, mirin, and sake in the recipe also contribute to the sweetness and overall flavor of the tare but can add some extra calories.
How to make tare
Tare sauce has a short prep time, but it has to cook for approximately 25 minutes on medium heat.
To make the sauce, the chef combines shoyu, sugar, sweet rice wine, sake, vinegar, and some aromatics and lets the mixture simmer and cook.
Here’s a full recipe card with an in-depth explanation of how to make tare at home.
How to store tare
To store tare sauce, it must be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.
If you want it to last even longer, you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
When using tare that has been frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then bring it to room temperature before using.
Does tare need to be refrigerated?
Yes, the tare needs to be refrigerated and kept in a cool place, or else it will spoil.
It will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Homemade tare must be stored in a container in the refrigerator to avoid spoiling.
The same applies to bottled tare from the grocery shop. Once opened, the sauce should be stored in the fridge.
How to use tare sauce
Tare is used to add flavor to a dish, as well as to provide a glossy finish. It is often used as a finishing sauce, added just before serving, as a marinade for meat, or as a dipping sauce.
However, that’s not all – it can be used as a seasoning for ramen, rice dishes, or as a baste for all types of BBQ.
There are three main uses for tare sauce:
Tare is a popular Japanese condiment and can be used as a glaze or marinade, especially for meat, fish, and seafood.
When used as a marinade prior to grilling, tare infuses the foods with tons of flavors.
When using tare as a glaze, it is brushed onto the food just before or during cooking. This adds flavor and helps to create a beautiful, glossy finish.
It can also be used as a marinade or dipping sauce. Diners will dip bite-size pieces of meat, seafood, tofu, or vegetables into tare sauce to add more flavor.
Therefore, tare is almost always on the menu of an Asian BBQ restaurant
At Yakiniku restaurants across Japan, tare is the dipping sauce for foods like yakitori chicken skewers and other grilled meats.
It can also be used as the main dipping sauce for some other popular Japanese foods like gyoza (dumplings), hot pot, or all kinds of appetizers and even side dishes.
Seasoning for soup
Since the flavor of tare is similar to teriyaki sauce and shoyu combined, it works well as a seasoning for all types of soup, especially noodle soups like ramen.
Some chefs secretly add tare sauce to ramen to give it a flavor boost and make the soup more savory.
The same goes for other Japanese noodle soups like soba and udon.
It can also be used as a soup base or broth seasoning when you cook miso soup. It can also be thickened and used as a gravy for rice or noodle dishes.
What is the best pairing to use with tare?
Tare is best used with meat, poultry, or fish. It can be used as a marinade, glaze, or dipping sauce.
Some of the most popular pairings are tare with chicken (like yakitori), tare with pork, and tare with salmon. Tare is usually used for Yaikiniku.
Tare is also delicious with vegetables. It can be used as a dipping sauce for grilled vegetables or added to stir-fries.
Many people also like to use tare sauce for natto (fermented soybeans). The umami flavors of the tare go well with the fermented soybeans.
Ramen, especially tonkotsu ramen, also goes well with tare. The flavorful soup pairs nicely with the tare-seasoned noodle and scallions.
Last but not least, rice goes great with tare too. In some cases, tare is served with sushi when soy sauce seems too bland.
Where to buy tare?
Usually, people make their own tare at home.
However, tare shoyu sauce is available for purchase at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon here.
There are several brands that manufacture tare sauce.
Here are a few that are worth checking out:
- Daisho Tare Yakinikudour: This highly rated brand is advertised as Japanese BBQ yakiniku shoyu sauce. It’s recommended as a dipping sauce for cooked meats or vegetables, but it can also be used as a marinade for barbecue. It’s a product of Japan.
- Kikkoman Sushi Sauce, Unagi Tare: Kikkoman is well known for producing some of the most delicious Japanese foods available in America, so it should come as no surprise that they’d make the list for one of the finest tare sauces. Their sauce is traditionally brewed with Kikkoman soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. It’s pre-thickened to produce an attractive appearance and provide a rich, savory flavor. It’s recommended for sushi and grilled foods.
- Ikari Yakiniku No Tare Medium Hot: If you like your tare with a bold, spicy flavor, then Ikari Yakiniku may be your brand of choice. It’s perfect for barbecuing. It also comes in mild varieties.
- Daisho Gyudon No Tare: This seasoned soy sauce is a product of Japan. It’s recommended for adding flavor to beef bowls.
- Morita Sukiyaki Warishita Tare: This tare is a product of Japan. It’s said to provide an authentic taste that makes cultural meals more enjoyable.
Below, we’ll answer some questions you might have about tare sauce!
How long can you keep tare?
Tare will last for 2 months if it’s kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
What’s tare in ramen?
Tare is the concentrated sauce used to season ramen.
What’s beef tare?
Beef tare is basically any type of beef flavored with tare sauce.
Tare sauce is often used as the main flavoring for Japanese barbecue since the meat usually isn’t flavored before it’s grilled.
Is tare sauce vegan?
Because the ingredients in tare are so varied, it’s impossible to say whether it’s vegan or not.
While it’s usually vegetarian, ingredients like honey are often added to teriyaki sauces that fall under the tare umbrella. And honey isn’t a vegan ingredient.
Is tare sauce gluten-free?
Those on a gluten-free diet don’t eat foods that contain the compound gluten. It’s often found in products such as wheat, barley, and rye.
In general, tare won’t be gluten-free because it’s almost always made with soy sauce, which contains wheat.
However, there are gluten-free soy sauces that can be used. If tare is made with these sauces, it’ll most likely be gluten-free.
However, other ingredients in the sauce must be gluten-free as well.
Is tare sauce keto?
Those on a keto diet eat healthy fats that are low in carbs and sugar.
Although tare sauce is generally low in carbs, it can contain sugary ingredients.
However, there are recipes for sugar-free teriyaki sauce and other sauces that fall under the tare sauce umbrella.
Is tare sauce healthy?
Because tare sauce can contain such a wide variety of ingredients, it’s difficult to find an appropriate answer for this question.
However, there are a few universal rules we can consider when determining whether or not tare sauce is healthy:
- It’s high in salt: The high salt content in tare sauce had been linked to health risks such as high blood pressure.
- It contains MSG: Although MSG hasn’t been proven to cause health issues, many claim it gives them headaches and stomachaches.
- It contains gluten: Most tare sauces contain gluten, which can cause health issues for those on a gluten-free diet.
However, tare sauce is also usually fat-free and low in carbs and calories.
Furthermore, even though it’s high in sodium, it has been shown to have lower sodium levels than table salt.
It’s also been shown to provide several health benefits.
For instance, some studies have shown certain tare sauces can improve digestion, reduce allergies and blood pressure, and boost the immune system. It’s even been known to have anticancer effects!
What’s the tare-ramen relation?
We know that tare can be used to flavor ramen, but did you know that the type of tare used in the ramen usually dictates the way ramen is classified?
For instance, you may see shio (salt), shoyu (soy) and miso ramen. These are all named according to the type of tare used in the ramen.
One exception is tonkotsu ramen. This type of ramen is named for the soup that’s used, not the tare.
There’s also a tonkotsu shoyu ramen, which is a reference to both the soup and the tare.
When used in ramen, tare works to add a salty flavor. But it can also bring an umami taste that has its own combination of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness.
For example, both shoyu and miso are saltym but they also each have their own distinct umami flavoring.
Keep this in mind when adding tare to ramen
When adding tare to ramen, it’s important to consider how much you should add. In general, it should be combined with the soup in a 1:10 ratio.
However, miso serves as an exception to this rule. It’s common to use more than 10% miso in soup because it isn’t as salty as other tare sauces.
What’s the difference between tare and soy sauce?
The main difference between tare and soy sauce is the ingredients.
Tare contains soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and salt, while soy sauce only contains soybeans, wheat, salt, and water.
Although shoyu (soy sauce) is a component of tare, soy sauce is a popular condiment used in Japanese cuisine and is NOT tare.
Soy sauce is also used as a marinade and a seasoning, but it doesn’t have the same thick consistency as tare.
Tare is more like a glaze or sauce, while soy sauce is more like a seasoning, often used to flavor rice dishes and for mixing with other condiments.
Tare is also more concentrated than soy sauce and has a sweeter flavor because of the mirin and sugar.
The main difference is that tare contains more ingredients, which results in a more complex flavor.
What’s the difference between tare sauce and teriyaki sauce?
The main difference between tare and teriyaki sauce is the ingredients and consistency.
Tare contains soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and salt, while teriyaki sauce contains soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sometimes ginger.
The consistency and viscosity of tare is thicker than teriyaki sauce because of the addition of sake and brown sugar.
Tare also has a more complex flavor because of the different types of soy sauce used.
Teriyaki sauce is less salty and has a sweeter flavor because of the sugar. The main difference is in the ingredients and flavor.
Tare is more like a glaze or sauce, while teriyaki sauce is more like a marinade.
However, both sauces are used in similar types of recipes, usually for meat dishes.
Many Japanese bbq restaurants serve both teriyaki and tare sauce.
Where to eat tare?
If you want to try tare, there are many Japanese BBQ restaurants across the world that serve it.
In Japan, some of the popular chain restaurants that serve tare are Motsunabe Ichifuku, Gyu-Kaku, and Sumibiyakiniku Inagiku.
These restaurants specialize in BBQ so that you can try tare with all sorts of grilled meats.
Many American and Western restaurants also serve tare alongside grilled foods.
It’s easiest to make tare at home or buy bottled tare for a small extra cost.
Is tare sauce vegan?
Yes, most tare recipes are vegan. However, there are some that may use honey instead of sugar which makes the tare non-vegan.
Most store-bought tare is vegan, although it’s best to check the ingredients list to be sure.
If you’re making tare at home, it’s very easy to make it vegan by using sugar or a vegan replacement like agave nectar or maple syrup.
Tare has long been a popular sauce in Japanese cooking and is used in many different dishes.
It is made of soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and salt and has a sweet, savory, and umami flavor.
Tare sauce is a common pantry staple in many Japanese homes because it’s so versatile and easy to make.
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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.