Japanese Grilling Sauce – Tare

I can’t get over Japanese grilling.  Real Japanese grilling.  The incredible white hot charcoal, the intricate sauces, the simple ingredients.. it’s mesmerizing.  Similar to sushi, some chefs have dedicated their lives and career mastering the techniques.   Of course, I have tried.. dabbling here and there, and have discovered sort of pattern that runs consistent through many of these sauces.  The combination of sake, mirin, rice vinegar and soy seems to be the base of many of these sauces.  And from there, from that platform, is where the chef’s write their signatures.  Some add little bits of roasted chicken or meat, some add little pieces of dry Japanese mushrooms or seaweeds, others add additional sauces, fruits, preserves, or anything else ‘secret’ that works.

The sauce is known as ‘tare’, which is sort of an in-general term of Japanese grilling/dipping sauce.  The following is my version, and I think it works exceptionally well. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Japanese Tare Sauce

Prep time:  2 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield:  about 2 cups finished sauce


1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 knob ginger, smashed
1 cup orange juice
1/2 bunch scallions, cut in half
2 whole star anise
1/2 lb chicken bones, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp vegetable oil


Coat the chicken bits with vegetable oil.  Cook, slowly, over a hot grill until deeply cooked through.  In a medium sized sauce pot, combine all other ingredients except the soy sauce.   Add about 1 cup of water.  Put the cooked chicken bits in the sauce.  Reduce by half and add the soy sauce.  Reduce over medium low heat until slightly thick.

The sauce is now ready.  Traditionally, it’s used in two ways.  Either glaze proteins or vegetables with a pastry brush while cooking, or char your items on the grill, dip them into the sauce, and return them to the grill.  Personally, I like the second method; each dip adds more flavor to the sauce, but both ways work well.


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