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Japanese-style meat sauce for all occasions

Making an addictive, Japanese-style sauce for marinating, grilling, and dipping meats is a ridiculously easy thing to do. The key ingredients serve a few core attributes that one would generally want in this style of sauce: a salty base + something sweet + something sour + something aromatic + a thickener.

Meat sauce

Generally, it would be one or more ingredients for each of these attributes:

  1. A salty base: soy sauce typically, light or normal
  2. Sweet: sugar (any kind works, dark brown or muscavado are even better), honey, mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  3. Sour: rice or any kind of vinegar; lemon, lime, or yuzu juice
  4. Aromatic: garlic, sesame oil
  5. Thickener: cornstarch

The quantity of each item is more or less to taste, with soy sauce being the largest amount. Usually I use about 1/2 cup of soy sauce, with ~4-5 tbsp of sweeteners, ~2 tbsp of sour, one clove of garlic, and ~2 tsp of cornstarch. It makes about 6 oz of sauce after it's all said and done--a plentiful amount to last a while.

In a saucepan, if using garlic, lightly toast it in a little bit of oil in low heat. Next add the soy sauce and all other ingredients except cornstarch. Heat over medium low heat until it is hot enough, just before boiling. You don't want to actually cook the thing, don't let it boil. Taste it at this point and see how you like it. Adjust ingredients until you're happy. Separately, mix a few teaspoons of cornstarch in a little bit of water until just dissolved. Slowly pour in part of the liquid into the sauce and stir and wait for sauce to thicken. If it is still not thick enough, continue adding more cornstarch. The sauce will get even thicker as it cools, so do not go overboard or it will end up goopy and slimy.

That's it! Now use this sauce as a marinate for meats, or brush it on while grilling them (even better on a hibachi!), or use it as a dip for cooked meats. The sauce with some shichimi togarashi is the bomb. Yes, I said bomb.

Personal thoughts

After coming back from Europe, Mrs. Pooper has vowed to start cooking at home more often, and to cook more elaborate dishes in order to match our now-even-pickier tastes.

However, it seems like prices for groceries keep getting more and more expensive. It's ridiculous how even a bottle of simple sauce or dressing can cost more than five bucks. And what's even more ridiculous, is how these same products are often dosed by high-fructose corn syrup--the cheapest flavor-filler you can find. It's like if you're not deliberately buying a "healthy", premium version of a product, you can't expect it to be good for you.

That's why it's great to make it yourself from scratch!