Tonkatsu sauce

Tonkatsu sauce

600 ml
Laura Edwards

Variations on this tangy-sweet, fruity-savoury, Worcestershire-like brown sauce – an essential flavour in dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, tonkatsu and yakisoba – are incredibly common in casual modern Japanese cooking. I was running a cooking class a while ago in which I taught the students how to make this, and one of them said, upon tasting it, ‘Oh! You taught us how to make brown sauce.’ And so I did – tonkatsu sauce’s flavour is remarkably British, sitting somewhere on the flavour spectrum between HP and Branston Pickle, but it has a few Japanese flourishes to enhance umami and sweetness. It also has a delightful affinity with mayonnaise.

By the way, there’s no need to get too nerdy about this, but generally speaking this sauce should be made a little sweeter for okonomiyaki (more sugar), more acidic for tonkatsu (more vinegar/Worcestershire sauce), and thinner and more savoury for yakisoba (more soy sauce/ Worcestershire sauce).

Not difficult


Quantity Ingredient
200ml worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, (malt or rice, or a mixture)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
8 dates
3 tablespoons raisins, chopped
or about 3 tbsp raisins, chopped
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp hot mustard, (English, Chinese or Japanese)
big pinch garlic powder
big pinch white pepper
200ml tomato ketchup


  1. Combine the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, dates or raisins, and apple in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion and dates or raisins are very soft. Add the mustard, garlic powder, white pepper and ketchup, transfer to a blender, and purée until smooth (then pass through a sieve if you want it really smooth).
  2. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge indefinitely. PRO TIP: This is the best possible condiment for a sausage or bacon bap.
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