Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Vegan Mentsuyu (Concentrated Noodle Soup Base) is a multipurpose ingredient that’s perfect for making cold noodle dipping sauce and hot broth (soup) suitable for udon, somen, and soba noodles. This kombu-based (no bonito) mentsuyu is 100 % vegan, has no MSG or other additives, and very easy to make with only 5 ingredients. My Vegan Mentsuyu is a great alternative to any conventional non-vegan mentsuyu.
Mentsuyu [麺つゆ or めんつゆ] is a Japanese word for “noodle dipping sauce” or “noodle broth (soup).” To break it down, “men [麺 or めん]” means “noodles” and “tsuyu [つゆ]” means “broth, soup or sauce.” It’s basically a “noodle tsuyu base” that’s perfect for any Japanese noodles except for ramen or yakisoba.
The most common use of mentsuyu is to make a cold dipping sauce for udon, somen and soba noodles. However, you can also use it for making hot soup/broth for those noodles. You can also use mentsuyu as umami-rich seasoning for just about anything from stir-fry to marinade!
Basically, mentsuyu is a multipurpose soy sauce based umami-rich sauce (base) with a touch of sweetness!
Typically, mentsuyu is a product you buy from grocery stores for convenience. In Japan, you can find a variety of mentsuyu (dark, light, noodle specific types etc.) but overall, all mentsuyu products are meant to be used for the same purposes—to make the dipping sauce and broth/soup for noodles.
Above all those many small categories, there are two major categories (types) of mentsuyu to consider.
Two Types of Mentsuyu
In general, mentsuyu has two different types.
- Straight type
- Concentrated type
The difference between the two types is very simple. For the straight type, you can use as is for a noodle dipping sauce. On the other hand, the concentrated one needs to be diluted with water (it’s very salty by itself.)
In this vegan mentsuyu recipe, it’s featuring the concentrated one which I’ll later cover why concentrated mentsuyu is better than the straight one!
No matter what type of the mentsuyu you’re looking for, you want to make your own mentsuyu beacause You Can Make It VEGAN!
First of all, any conventional mentsuyu is NOT vegan due to the use of bonito flakes. So, if you try to look for vegan mentsuyu, most likely it won’t exist. Good news is that mentsuyu isn’t hard to make at home. To make this vegan mentsuyu, it’s almost the same way as making the conventional one.
When you make this vegan mentsuyu (concentrated noodle soup base);
- It’s 100% vegan!
- You can make it Organic
- No MSG or unhealthy food additives & preservatives
- You can control the sweetness
Taste of Vegan Mentsuyu
This vegan mentsuyu is best for making cold noodle dipping sauce for udon, somen, and soba noodles!
My vegan mentsuyu has a very delicate and subtle umami from soy sauce and kombu. Mirin adds a natural sweetness and the sake gives a more complex flavor as well as the umami and a touch of sweetness. Although mirin and sake give just enough sweetness to taste, I actually like my mentsuyu to be on a bit sweeter side. So, I use cane sugar to add more sweetness.
As mentioned, the conventional mentsuyu has both bonito flakes and kombu. For this vegan mentsuyu, I simply omit the use of bonito flakes. Now, you may be thinking I could use dried shiitake instead of bonito flakes…you’re right but I purposely don’t use dried shiitake for two reasons.
- It’d take longer to make because I’d want to properly dehydrate dried shiitake (in cold water in the fridge.)
- I’d prefer the simplicity of kombu taste in the background. Having a flavor from dried shiitake can be quite strong.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind the strong flavor of shiitake in ramen broth but not for udon, somen and soba noodles.
Concentrated Vegan Mentsuyu
By now, you know why you want to make vegan mentsuyu! So, why is the concentrated mentsuyu better than the straight one?
There are many reasons why you want to make concentrated mentsuyu!
Most likely, you’ll be using concentrated mentsuyu for the purpose of making some noodle dishes. If so, concentrated mentsuyu + water can make;
- Cold noodle dipping sauce (My No.1 Recommendation!)
- Hot noodle broth/soup
- The above for three different types of noodles; Udon, Somen and Soba
But, concentrated mentsuyu isn’t just for noodles. Also, you can even use it as is without dilution! Some examples are;
- Seasoning or sauce for stir-fry or rice (with or without water dilution)
- Seasoning for proteins such as tofu and beans
- Flavored soy sauce for making more complex tasting broth or soup
- Marinade (with or without water dilution)
- Japanese marinated dish such as “ohitashi”, “ni-bitashi”, “yaki-bitashi”, and “age-bitashi” (with dilution)
- A substitute for soy sauce
Long Storage Life & Convenience
Since concentrated mentsuyu is made with no water, it can be stored in the fridge for a long time without spoiling (generally about 1 month or longer.) Also, it’s concentrated so you use only a little bit at a time which helps the mentsuyu to last for a long time!
Do you want to make a cold noodle dipping sauce? It will be ready in less than 1 minute!
Do you want to make a broth for hot noodles? It will be ready in less than 10 minutes!
As long as you already have the mentsuyu prepared in advance and keep in the fridge, you can make any noodle dishes in no time! If you’re looking for more specific taste, I must say my other recipes, udon noodle broth and soba noodle broth, are made suitable for the particular types of noodles, udon and soba. It’s definitely worth checking them out!
Easy Formula (Ratio)
I’ve listed the formula (ratio) for how to make dipping sauce, hot broth and more in the “Notes” in the actual recipe! There are many variations for specific type of noodles and preference. I recommend for you to use that as a guide then adjust to your preference!
I can assure you that Vegan Mentsuyu (Concentrated Noodle Soup Base) is very easy to make, tasty and authentically Japanese, versatile, and also convenient to keep in your fridge!
Be sure to check out the “Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)” after the Printable Recipe!
Vegan Mentsuyu (Concentrated Noodle Soup Base)
- 0.4 oz dried kombu sheet
- 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 3/4 cup sake
- 3 tbsp cane sugar adjust to taste
- Gently wipe dried kombu sheet with a damp cloth. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Mix well and let it stand for 15-30 minutes (depends on the thickness of the kombu) until kombu is slightly tender.
- Cook over medium high heat (uncovered) until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.
- Remove the kombu and let it completely cool down. (Tips: You can save the cooked kombu and repurpose for another dish.) Use right away or transfer to a clean container with a lid and keep refrigerated. See “How to Use” in the “Notes” below as the guide for how to make dipping sauce, broth and more.
- Kombu is a type of kelp which is typically sold dried for cooking.
- A variety of dried kombu is available: Ma kombu, Rausu kombu, Rishiri kombu etc.
- Cooked kombu is still edible and can be reused or repurpose for another dish!
- I use Rausu Kombu from the Japanese Pantry.
- Mirin is Japanese sweet cooking rice wine which adds a natural sweetness and depth to the flavor.
- The alcohol content needs to be cooked off.
- Genuine mirin would be the best. Otherwise, use high quality mirin with no high fructose corn syrup.
- I use Organic Genuine Mikawa Mirin from Njiya Market or Organic Genuine Mirin from Gold Mine Natural Foods.
- Sake adds a hint of sweetness and gives more complex flavor, umami, and the aroma.
- The alcohol content needs to be cooked off.
- Be sure to look for vegan-friendly sake. I use Organic Junmai Sake from Hakutsuru.
- I use cane sugar for this recipe and cooking in general.
- Using other sweeteners such as agave syrup, maple syrup and coconut sugar etc., will not taste the same.
How to UseThe recommendations below are general suggestions and also my personal taste preference. Adjust the amount of mentsuyu and water to your taste. Cold Dipping Sauce for Somen Noodles:
- For lighter taste (my favorite), combine 2 tbsp/30 ml mentsuyu with 4 tbsp/60 ml water. Mix well. [6.1 oz / 90 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 2-parts water
- For darker taste, combine 3 tbsp/45 ml mentsuyu with 3 tbsp/45 ml water. Mix well. [6.1 oz / 90 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 1-part water
- For lighter taste, combine 2 tbsp/30 ml mentsuyu with 4 tbsp/60 ml water. Mix well. [6.1 oz / 90 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 2-parts water
- For darker taste (my favorite), combine 3 tbsp/45 ml mentsuyu with 3 tbsp/45 ml water. Mix well. [6.1 oz / 90 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 1-part water
- Combine 1.7-1.9 oz / 50-55 ml mentsuyu with 8.5-9.3 oz / 250-275 ml water per serving. Mix well. [10-11 oz / 300-330 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 5-parts water
- Combine 1.7-1.9 oz / 50-55 ml mentsuyu with 8.5-9.3 oz / 250-275 ml water per serving. Then add a pinch of salt. Mix well. [10-11 oz / 300-330 ml total per serving] --- 1-part mentsuyu to 5-parts water
- Use as is (the same way as using soy sauce)
- Use as is (the same way as using soy sauce)
- Submerge grilled (pan-fried) veggies in the marinade that consists of 1-part mentsuyu to 3-parts water.
How to Store
- Store vegan mentsuyu (concentrated noodle soup base) in a clean airtight container or jar and keep refrigerated.
- Use within 1 month.
- Vegan mentsuyu (concentrated noodle soup base) may taste better after 1-2 days rested in the fridge as all the flavors come together.
- You could make this recipe with less/more or without sugar. Mirin (especially when you use high quality genuine mirin) and sake give just enough natural sweetness for you to taste.
Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)
1. Gently wipe dried kombu sheet with a damp cloth.
Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan.
Mix well and let it stand for 15-30 minutes (depends on the thickness of the kombu) until kombu is slightly tender.
2. Cook over medium high heat (uncovered) until boiling.
Recue the heat to medium low and continue to simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the kombu and let it completely cool down (Tips: You could save the cooked kombu and repurpose for another dish.)
Use right away or transfer to a clean container with a lid and keep refrigerated. See “How to Use” in the “Notes” below as the guide for how to make dipping sauce, broth and more.
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