Mix These 2 Condiments To Upgrade Your Japanese BBQ Experience

Barbecue food is always a delight, but Japanese cuisine has a unique way of taking it to the next level. As summer approaches and you're thinking about busting out the grill, Japanese BBQ is a must-try. When you do, don't forget about one of the most important elements: the sauce. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be anything rare or elaborate — a simple mix of soy sauce (check out our ranking of the best brands) and ketchup gets the job done better than you'd think.

While they don't share much in terms of flavors, these pantry staples are both extremely adaptable and easy to pair with. The soy sauce's umami, sweet-savory taste seamlessly intertwines with the tangy tone of ketchup. It melds right into the remaining condiments' interplay of flavors, so there's still harmony amongst a diverse range of ingredients. Together, they make a fascinating fusion of deep, intricate notes that perfectly complement the grilled meat's rich, smoky taste. This dynamic duo balances between adding intrigue to the food and allowing the natural flavors to shine.

This sauce is stellar when drizzled over all kinds of yakiniku (Japanese BBQ food), which may include grilled beef, pork, seafood, and other meats, as well as vegetables. But that's not all: Since this pairing bears a lot of resemblance to tonkatsu sauce, you can serve it with tonkatsu itself and even chicken katsu. Try it out on other fried or high-heat dishes like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, tempura, and more. You'll adore it with just about anything.

A simple mixture that you can freely customize

Putting together this sauce pairing is as straightforward as you'd expect: Simply mix everything together. The ratio between the two main ingredients may vary based on your personal preference as well as other accompanying condiments. Generally speaking, start with ½ cup of ketchup and 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce and adjust as you taste.

Feel free to add anything else that you want. Aromatics like ginger, onion, and garlic are never redundant since they impart a warm undertone that highlights the grilled food's richness. Brown sugar is another foolproof choice thanks to its sweet touch, which fares extremely well with the overall savory, umami tone. If you're all about the spice and the heat, however, go for a hot sauce, like Sriracha, or mustard for a peppery kick.

Although optional, Japanese staple ingredients such as mirin, rice vinegar, sake, etc. can also be used for layering in extra complexity if needed. Don't forget about hoisin sauce and oyster sauce, either, as they are the key to accentuating the umami taste.