In Japanese cooking, ponzu refers to any of various citrus juices. If citrus juice is mixed with soy sauce, dashi, rice vinegar and rice wine, then, it is called ponzu shoyu or, more popularly, ponzu sauce.
I belong to the second school of thought. When alcohol is added to a savory dish, I find the flavors funny if the alcohol is not cooked. I prefer the richness and concentrated flavors that one gets after allowing the alcohol to boil off.
The easiest way to make ponzu sauce is to make the dashi base by stirring dashi granules in hot water. My problem with this approach is when do I add the rice wine and how do I allow it to reduce?
So, I make dashi by boiling kombu (kelp) and bonito flakes. Into the mixture goes the soy sauce, rice wine and rice vinegar too so that the alcohol has time to heat up and evaporate leaving behind its rich and deep flavors.
That’s kombu on the foreground and bonito flakes in the clear plastic packet. Read the how to make dashi post to learn more about these ingredients.
Place the bonito flakes and kelp in a pot of water.
Add the rice wine.
And the rice vinegar.
And the soy sauce.
Boil until reduced then, off the heat, stir in the citrus juice.
The ponzu sauce can now be poured into a bowl of ramen.
Ramen with ponzu sauce
- ramen prepared according to package directions
- cooked beef pork or chicken
- sliced carrot blanched
- leafy vegetables like bok choy blanched
For the ponzu sauce:
- 1 packet of bonito flakes
- 10 1-inch pieces of kombu
- 1/8 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup rice wine (sake or mirin)
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Make the ponzu sauce.
- Pour in three to four cups of water into a pot.
- Add the bonito flakes and kombu.
- Pour in the rice vinegar, rice wine and soy sauce.
- Boil gently, uncovered, until reduced by about half. Depending on the room temperature, humidity and how well your pot conducts heat, this can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
- Strain the mixture, stir in the lemon juice starting with 1/8 cup. Taste the sauce. If it needs the rest of the lemon juice, pour in the rest.
- To assemble the ramen with ponzu sauce, place the noodles, meat and vegetables in a bowl. Pour in the ponzu sauce.