Recipe

Wonder Sauce

by Tim Chin

My inspiration was tare—a Japanese term for an all-purpose dipping sauce used for yakitori, noodles, sushi, even hot pot dishes. But ask anyone how to make it, and you’ll never get a straight answer. It’s essentially thickened soy sauce and sugar with anything else to make it delicious. Dave Chang uses chicken backs. My co-worker uses fish bones. My grandma likes slab bacon and smoky ham hocks. In the world of tare, there are no rules but one: it better be damn tasty. During development, the Cook’s Science team and I tasted all things umami to get a sense for what we wanted. In the end, we decided on a traditional foundation, starting with dashi—a quick stock of kombu, a dried kelp, and katsuobushi—fermented, dried, and smoked skipjack. Dashi is the cornerstone of Japanese cooking—the chicken broth of Japan—and it’s loaded with savory compounds like the amino acid glutamate and the nucleotide inosinate, so it’s perfect for this sauce. 

Yield
Makes about 1 cup (300 grams)
Wonder_Sauce-64_169.jpg
Ingredients
1,025 g cold water
50 g kombu
10 g dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
10 g dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
20 g bonito flakes
150 g corn syrup
100 g sake
75 g soy sauce
45 g rice vinegar
15 g cornstarch
1 quart plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1¾ ounces kombu
⅜ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
⅜ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
¾ ounce bonito flakes
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup sake
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
5½ teaspoons cornstarch
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 1,000 g cold water
    • 50 g kombu
    • 10 g dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
    • 10 g dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
    Bring cold water, kombu, shiitake mushrooms, and porcini mushrooms to gentle simmer in large saucepan over low heat, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
    • 20 g bonito flakes
    Off heat, stir in bonito flakes, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Return liquid to saucepan.
    • 150 g corn syrup
    • 100 g sake
    • 75 g soy sauce
    • 45 g rice vinegar
    Stir corn syrup, sake, soy sauce, and vinegar into saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously until reduced to 1 cup (300 grams), about 35 minutes.
    • 25 g cold water
    • 15 g cornstarch
    Whisk cold water and cornstarch together in small bowl, then whisk into sauce. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to bowl and let cool to room temperature. Transfer sauce to airtight container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
Instructions
    • 1 quart cold water
    • 1¾ ounces kombu
    • ⅜ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
    • ⅜ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
    Bring cold water, kombu, shiitake mushrooms, and porcini mushrooms to gentle simmer in large saucepan over low heat, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
    • ¾ ounce bonito flakes
    Off heat, stir in bonito flakes, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Return liquid to saucepan.
    • ½ cup corn syrup
    • ½ cup sake
    • ¼ cup soy sauce
    • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
    Stir corn syrup, sake, soy sauce, and vinegar into saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously until reduced to 1 cup, about 35 minutes.
    • 2 tablespoons cold water
    • 5½ teaspoons cornstarch
    Whisk cold water and cornstarch together in small bowl, then whisk into sauce. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to bowl and let cool to room temperature. Transfer sauce to airtight container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
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