Is your dish missing something? That something else might just be the taste of Tonkatsu Sauce.
So what is Tonkatsu Sauce exactly, and how do you use it? Here’s everything you need to know.
This delicious condiment is an essential part of some traditional Japanese cuisines, however if you’re unable to find it at your local store, then don’t fret as there are some great substitutes for Tonkatsu Sauce that may give you that same subtle savory flavor.
To get started – check out our list of the five best Tonkatsu Sauce alternatives.
What is Tonkatsu Sauce?
Tonkatsu Sauce is a type of condiment widely used in Japan.
Its main ingredient is Worcestershire sauce, with other ingredients such as ketchup, sugar, fruit juices (apple or pineapple), onion, garlic, and sometimes sesame seeds added to it.
The resulting concoction bears a savory-sour flavor and is commonly served along with tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) dishes.
Tonkatsu Sauce is very easy to use as a condiment for many types of dishes.
It also goes well with fried foods such as french fries and tempura.
When using it on meats like pork tonkatsu or chicken katsu, it really brings out the flavors of the deep-fried meats and helps bind together all the ingredients in the dish.
It can also be used as a marinade for stir fries and for adding flavor to dressings or salads.
Many people also love using Tonkatsu Sauce as a dipping sauce for sushi rolls or vegetables.
When selecting your Tonkatsu Sauce from the grocery store shelves, look out for two key ingredients used — Worcestershire sauce and apple juice/apple concentrate — so you’re sure to get authentic Tonkatsu Sauce taste.
Additionally, Taberu Rayu can often be found amongst the selection which has much higher chili content than most Tonkatsu Sauces providing extra heat if desired.
The 5 BEST Substitutes for Tonkatsu Sauce
While it can be tough to find outside Japan, there are plenty of alternatives that you can make at home.
Here are five of our favorite Tonkatsu Sauce substitutes that provide the same depth of flavor, with different twist from around the world.
1 – Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is an English condiment made from vinegar, sugar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind, garlic and various spices.
It’s widely used to make classic dishes like steak Diane or beef Wellington.
If you don’t have tonkatsu sauce on hand but do have Worcestershire sauce, this can be a great substitute since it has similarly savory notes.
To use it as a tonkatsu sauce substitute, simply mix 3 parts Worcestershire sauce with 1 part ketchup.
2 – Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is one of the most common and versatile seasonings used in a variety of Asian cuisines.
It’s a great substitute for Tonkatsu sauce because they share many similar flavor components and it is easily found in most supermarkets.
While being distinguishable from the original, soy sauce has all the salty, umami flavors of Tonkatsu with a slight hint of sweetness derived from Amazake (fermented sweet rice).
This makes it an ideal replacement when Tonkatsu sauce isn’t readily available to you.
Simply mix equal parts aminos and mirin with a teaspoon or two of sugar to make your own homemade Tonkatsu-replica.
3 – Miso Paste
Miso paste is a very common ingredient in japanese cuisine.
It is made from fermented soybeans, rice, and barley.
It is most commonly used as an ingredient for making miso soup or for seasoning dishes such as steamed vegetables or sauteed tofu.
In terms of taste and texture, miso paste has a bold flavor and a thick consistency that is similar to tonkatsu sauce.
To use miso paste as a tonkatsu sauce substitute, simply combine 1/4 cup of miso paste with 2 tablespoons of mirin.
Add a teaspoon of sugar if desired and mix everything together until well combined.
You can then either use the mixture as-is or thin it out by adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of water, depending on how thick you like your sauce to be.
4 – BBQ Sauce
BBQ sauce is an excellent substitute for tonkatsu sauce, as it has a similar sweetness and smokiness to it.
You can use store-bought BBQ sauce or make your own from scratch.
Make sure to adjust the flavor to suit your palate by adding ingredients such as garlic, onion powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and more.
If you’re using store-bought BBQ sauce, consider adding some grated apple or carrot to give the dish a fresher flavor.
To thicken the sauce, try adding some cornstarch slurry or even honey to make it more viscous.
5 – Ketchup
Ketchup is probably the most debated substitute for tonkatsu sauce that many people will always find themselves considering.
The biggest risk with ketchup as a substitute for tonkatsu sauce is that it can be too sweet when used alone, but you can offset this by mixing in some Worcestershire sauce and mustard to give it more of an authentic flavor.
Ketchup also tends to have a tomato-based flavor that is similar to tonkatsu, which makes it perfect for marinades, giving your dish deep and rich flavors.
Be sure to adjust the amount of ketchup you’re using so you don’t overpower your dish.
After reading this article, we hope that you have a better understanding of what Tonkatsu sauce is, and can make the decision of which substitute to use accordingly.
Whether you are looking for a great substitution or creating dishes with an eastern twist, any of the alternatives listed above will be sure to add flavor and taste.
When it comes to Tonkatsu sauce, translation aside, it’s easy to understand why it’s so beloved all over the world.
The rich and complex flavor derived from its combination of tomato ketchup, apple or pear puree, soy sauce and spices makes this sweet-savory condiment an all-around winner.
And now that you know some of the best substitutes for when you don’t have any on hand – you can give those dishes a burst of flavor just when they need it most.