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Lightly smoky and full of umami, Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base used in a multitude of noodle dishes. You can easily make it at home with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).

A mason jar containing Homemade Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) / Japanese Soup Base for Noodles.

Mentsuyu (めんつゆ), or sometimes called Tsuyu (つゆ), is a Japanese soup base commonly used in soba and udon noodle dishes. Made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), the flavor is delicate yet intensely savory.

A mason jar containing mentsuyu (Japanese noodle soup base)

What is Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) for?

In Japan, we use Mentsuyu as a basic sauce or broth to flavor everything from noodle dishes, rice bowls, and hot pots to the tempura dipping sauce.

The multipurpose sauce gets a real depth of flavor and smokiness from the use of kombu and bonito flakes. As it happens, these two ingredients are the elementary components to make dashi—the Japanese soup stock that characterize the distinct flavor of Japanese food. 

In this recipe, soy sauce contributes to the savory tones, and mirin imparts sweetness that ties everything together. 

Making Mentsuyu at home is as easy as combining all the ingredients in a pot and letting it simmer down to a concentrated sauce. You can store it in a mason jar and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a month. The sauce will come in handy when you need it to season your favorite noodle dishes.

When ready to use, you just need to thin it out with water! The ratios of Mentsuyu to water will differ depending on the recipes.

Use Mentsuyu for Hot Noodle Soup

A Japanese bowl containing Toshikoshi Soba Noodle Soup with fish cake and wakame seaweed.

To use Mentsuyu in a hot noodle soup, dilute it with water, heat it up, then pour over boiled noodles. This hot noodle soup broth is called Kaketsuyu (かけつゆ).

Use Mentsuyu for Cold Noodle Dipping Sauce

Two kinds of soba noodles served on a Japanese bamboo, garnished with shredded nori sheet.

The Mentsuyu is diluted with water (sometimes no need to dilute), then serve with chilled noodles. This dipping sauce is called Tsuketsuyu (つけつゆ).

Convenient Store-Bought Mentsuyu Bottles

Mentsuyu / Tsuyu (Japanese Noodle Soup Base) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

For convenience, you can purchase pre-made Mentsuyu from Japanese (or Asian) grocery stores or online.

Mentsuyu / Tsuyu (Japanese Noodle Soup Base) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Each brand has different instructions for diluting the Metsuyu. Find the usage guide on the bottle that looks like this. You can learn more about the Ratio of Tsuyu to Water on this page.

Use Mentsuyu in These Recipes!

A mason jar containing Homemade Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) / Japanese Soup Base for Noodles.

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A mason jar containing Homemade Mentsuyu (Tsuyu) / Japanese Soup Base for Noodles.

Homemade Mentsuyu (Japanese Noodle Soup Base)

Lightly smoky and full of umami, Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base used either hot or cold in a multitude of noodle dishes. You can easily make it at home with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). This Mentsuyu is concentrated.

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

Ingredients 

 

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

Instructions 

To Use the Mentsuyu

  • This Mentsuyu is concentrated. In general, the mentsuyu-to-water ratio should be 1:2 for a dipping sauce for Zaru Soba/Udon, and 1:4 for Udon/Soba Noodle Soup. Please adjust the taste of your dipping sauce or soup broth by adding more mentsuyu or water.

What to do with the spent katsuobushi and kombu?

  • Use the spent katsuobushi and kombu to make Homemade Furikake Rice Seasoning. You can also save the drained katsuobushi and kombu in the freezer until you’re ready to make the furikake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cup · Calories: 518 kcal · Carbohydrates: 33 g · Protein: 12 g · Sodium: 7698 mg · Potassium: 31 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 41 g · Calcium: 6 mg · Iron: 1 mg

Author: Namiko Chen

Course: Condiments

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: dipping sauce, noodle soup

©JustOneCookbook.com Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any website or social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 16, 2013. It’s been republished on May 5, 2022, with updated step-by-step and final images.



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