Five of a kind: Japanese sauces

Bull-Dog Worcestershire sauce

Orientalism was all the rage in Britain during the 19th century, and the story goes that British traders left their mark on Japan with a dish the Japanese call tonkatsu, or fried crumbed pork cutlet, although it is just as likely it came from Continental traders. Tonkatsu are served with a sweet, spicy dark tonkatsu sauce that sometimes bears the name Worcestershire or Worcester sauce. One popular brand is Bull-Dog, whose name truly reinforces its British heritage. Made from high-fructose corn syrup, pureed fruit, vinegar and spices, it is much more like HP sauce than traditional Worcestershire. It is great with barbecue foods and grilled meats, and its sweet and sour notes make it a nice foil for dark, rich stews.
300ml, $5.50

Otafuku okonomiyaki sauce

While savoury pancakes are made across Japan, the one with which Australians are most familiar is the Osaka version made with a batter filled with grated yam, cabbage, onion and other vegetables. Savoury pancakes are called okonomiyaki from ''okonomi'' meaning ''what you like'' and ''yaki'' meaning ''grilled''. The condiments are the flavourful part of the dish and the okonomiyaki sauce is produced with umami ingredients such as soy sauce, extracts of yeast, chicken, pork, scallop and dried tuna. The sauce is drizzled over the pancake with Japanese mayonnaise and topped with seaweed and dried tuna flakes. This sauce is delicious snuck into a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich or drizzled over a hot potato salad seasoned with black pepper and loaded with chopped white onion.
300ml, $6.25

QP fukairi goma dressing

Popular in Japan as a salad dressing, fukairi goma is made with roasted sesame seeds. These are ground and added to a thin mayonnaise-like sauce to which shiitake extract and MSG are added for more umami taste, plus extract of stevia for that hit of sweetness without the calories. It is produced by several companies in Japan and has been exported to Australia for some time. Because it has recently become very popular with young chefs - who buy it up by the armful - it is sometimes scarce. If you can find it, it is delicious over asparagus, with steamed broccoli and it lifts leafy salad greens such as rocket and mizuna to another level.
300ml, $13.75

Kewpie mayonnaise

The cute little doll logo embossed on the bottle is beautifully innocuous. The soft plastic bottle that gently implodes as you use the mayonnaise inside is pleasurably tactile. The smooth, sweet and delicious mayonnaise is addictive and is made with egg yolk, apple cider and rice vinegar. At its heart, however, is a special ingredient that gives it its mouth-watering savouriness - MSG. Kewpie, or QP, is a massive food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical corporation with factories across Japan and this little soft plastic bottle is its friendly public persona. Kewpie mayonnaise is used as a base for salad dressings and is a good side for dipping fried seafood. In Japan it is drizzled over pizza and sometimes used as a substitute for oil in frying meat.
300ml, $5.50

Ebara yakitori chicken sauce

You're in Tokyo. It's raining. You slip into an izakaya and order a beer and yakitori. You can smell the chicken barbecuing over charcoal and out it comes, smoky, sweet and a little sticky. Delicious. Take chopped chicken thigh and little pieces of spring onion and thread them onto a soaked bamboo skewer. Grill these on the barbecue, using charcoal if you have it, brush the sauce onto the chicken as it cooks and wash it all down with a chilled Asahi beer. It's a pretty basic sauce - mostly sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice and mirin. In Japan, yakitori is often cooked with just salt but this sauce gives the flesh a nice golden colour. Other parts of the chicken are grilled such as the gizzards, heart and liver, and you could try this sauce on them or perhaps other grilled meats or vegetables.
210g, $5.75

This story Five of a kind: Japanese sauces first appeared on Good Food.