It’s summer, which implies it’s BBQ time! Japanese-style BBQ is called Yakiniku and in Japanese, it literally translates into grilled meat. It’s a famous Korean-born meal. Each Japanese Yakiniku restaurant provides its own dipping sauce and is called Yakiniku no Tare (or just tare). Tare is the key seasoning for Japanese BBQ because before grilling we don’t
typically marinate the meat.
What is Yakiniku Sauce?
The yakiniku sauce is fascinating because it is one of those items that you can purchase in the Japanese supermarket, but almost all yakiniku stores create their own distinctive variation (read my post on which Yakiniku sauce to buy here)
It’s a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and anything else the store intends to add to give it that special touch. I really enjoy the sauces that also add (many do) toasted white sesame seeds.
The outcome is a spicy, delicious, mildly dense sauce that the Japanese will use in most yakiniku establishments as a dipping sauce. I still haven’t found a restaurant with no yakiniku sauce.
As a marinade, this sauce is also amazing. In addition, in Japanese stores — directly in the meat segment next to the other meats — you will discover Japanese beef selections already in the marinade.
Here’s the variant Just One Cookbook made:
Also read about these other Japanese dipping sauces I’ve tried here
How you can enjoy Yakiniku in your Home
Bite-sized meat (generally beef and offal) and greens are grilled on a gas / electric grill or also on charcoals for Yakiniku. Whether you enjoy Yakiniku dinner at home or at a restaurant, everybody is sitting around the barbecue grill and cooking the meat throughout the dinner. It’s an excellent menu for 6-8 individuals as it requires very minimal preparation.
As I mentioned before, for yakiniku, meat is generally not marinated; therefore, meat quality is very crucial. Usually, the well-marbled small rib is thinly cut and grilled over charcoal on each side for 30 to 60 seconds (you only need to turn the meat once to maintain sweet flavor) and then dive into the sauce to enjoy.
Many people also wonder what’s the best grill for Yakiniku or the best grill to help you enjoy the experience to the fullest. The most traditional grill is called a sririchin and you can find them in almost every Japanese hardware store.
However, if you don’t have one of those stores around you, you can also find a quality sririchin grill on Amazon. Some people might not find them very practical for Yakiniku though, but it’s a great little piece of hardware to complete the authentic vibe.
In the US, any stove that resembles sririchin is called a hibachi. However, a hibachi is actually a smaller Japanese heating device that isn’t typically used for cooking. When they were introduced in the US market, the sririchin was accidentally marketed as hibachi which is why you’ll find many “hibachi” grills around but sririchins might be harder to find.
Our Sweet and Simple Yakiniku Sauce Recipe
Now on to our very own delicious Yakiniku Sauce recipe. It takes about 3 minutes to prepare, then 2 minutes to cook it, making it a total of 5 minutes (yes, it’s that fast and easy). You will get 3 servings which equal roughly ⅓ of a cup or 100 milliliters.
Our Yakiniku sauce has a very sweet and flavorful touch, similar to the traditional Japanese “BBQ” sauce. It’s perfect to dip thin slices of well marbled short rib, in, as well as for other grilled goodies.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons of sake
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon of miso
- ¼ teaspoon of katsuobushi (these are dried bonito flakes)
- ⅛ of an apple (for best results, use a Fuji apple)
- 2 teaspoons of roasted white sesame seeds
- Gather all of your ingredients in a single place
- Add mirin, sake, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, miso, dried bonito flakes to a pot and simmer for about 1½ minutes.
- Once that time has passed, strain the sauce so it’s nice and smooth.
- Add roasted white sesame seeds and the grated apple, and you’ll be ready to start dipping yakiniku in it. However, the best way to enjoy it is to let the sauce sit for about half a day or even better overnight in the fridge so all the flavors can meld together.
Things to keep in mind:
The sauce alone, without dipping any meat, might be too salty. However, once you dip the meat in the sauce, both flavors will combine and complement each other nicely.
Even though Yakiniku Dipping Sauce or “Tare” is an item particular to Japanese culture, they’ve shared their recipe with the rest of the world so we can create our own delicious yakiniku at home.
By following the recipe shared here today and using traditional Japanese grilling methods, you’ll be able to obtain a delicious result that is bound to surprise all your guests and maybe even yourself.