Sake Gumi

Summer is here. A very fucking uncomfortably hot summer is here. I am not young enough to go out to the beach and lay out all day any more, which pisses me off. However, staying young-looking requires me to wear a lot of sun screen. What is it to get old? It's not fun at all. I remember when I went to Jamaica by myself for a week, and when I got back, my friends told me I over-tanned and was too dark. I miss those days.

What else do you do in the summer aside from going to the beach? BBQ! Although I don't have a grill to do an American-style BBQ party, I have a nice rooftop, and a panini maker which can be turned into a griddle. I host yakiniku parties (Japanese version of Korean BBQ) in the summer all the time. Every time I do it, I want to make it a very authentic, fun, and delicious experience for everyone.

Luckily, I live in NYC where I have an easy access to kalbi (sliced bone in rib), or harami (skirt steak, which I recently learned are considered to be "intestines". To make it even better, intestines have lower calories than regular meat, so skirt steak is one of the healthiest cuts of beef!!). These are two signature meats for any  Japanese BBQ party.

As Yoko has said, dipping sauces are very expensive in the US, and I always make my own sauce for the occasion.

This sauce is very similar to Soy Vay marinating sauce (which is pretty interesting, since the brand was started by a Jew who was in love with Asian BBQ sauce and started the company with a Chinese girl. I haven't read the label, but I bet it's kosher, too).

It's easy, and a lot cheaper than buying store bought kind. Plus no MSG!  Although I do not mind MSG whatsoever since I grew up wit it.


200ml Cooking sake
200ml Mirin
800ml Soy Sauce
80 grams Miso
2tbsp Sesame seeds
2tsp To-ban jan (or Sriracha or any kind of Asian hot sauce)-- if you like spicy, add more
About 1cup Sugar
1 onion
1 carrot
1 apple
1 lemon
3-4 cloves of garlic



Do you like penis shaped arrangement of the vegetables?  It's a bit too skinny, though.

First you boil the cooking sake and mirin. Once it boils, fire it up (flambe) to cut the alcohol.


Meanwhile, cut vegetable, and put them in a blender.


Add 600 ml of soy sauce, as well as sugar into the sake/mirin mixture. In the blender, add the rest of soy sauce, miso, sesame seeds, and hot sauce. Blend all  of them until smooth.


Add vegetable mixture to the liquid. Cook for about 30 minutes over very low heat. Add lemon juice during this process.

From this point on, you may want to adjust taste by adding more sugar, or hot sauce. Important factor is that this is a dipping sauce, so it should be quite a strong flavor-- very salty, as well as sweet and spicy. I added a bit of peanut butter for mildness, in this batch. You can get creative with it.


Final product.


I bought kalbi from a new meat shop in Chelsea market. It tasted good, but kind of tough. I think the cut was a bit too thick.


With this view, grilled beef and booze, what more can you expect from summer?!

Column: ReCPY



    kayoko on

  • Yoko: You don’t truly, deeply “like” this unless you press the “like” BUTTON. Duh.

    Sigh. Miss your rooftop. Miss summertime in NYC. It’s fucking FREEZING over here!

    Do you really have to flambe the mirin/sake mixture to cut the alcohol? That scares me.

    kayoko on

  • Three things like:
    1. The view from your rooftop.
    2. The tip about being able to replace To-ban jan with Sriracha.
    3. The arrangement of your veggies.

    yoko on

  • Fab view and great post!

    But since all you guys are more or less Japanese, I would expect you to find the veggie arrangement quite close to real life, no?

    Anders on

  • I thought you could only buy yakiniku dipping sauce. I didn’t know you could MAKE it. Learn something new everyday. I like the veg arrangement – very modern art.

    Sakura on

  • …is that weird?

    kayoko on

  • This is probably the only food blog in which participants bring up penis and vagina’s on a regular basis.

    tomo on

  • Ohhh shittt… PENIS ENVY!!!

    kayoko on

  • I love yakiniku, I’m definately going to have to try this. Just one question, do you have any suggestions on what to replace the sake and mirin with? My parents are religious weirdos who refuse to even cook with alcohol, let alone drink it :(

    Craig on

  • Yoko- the recipe actually said dried hot pepper, so you can definitely replace with any kind of hot sauce.
    Sakura- it’s easy as you saw, and better than store bought, that’s for sure.
    Anders – Next time I arrange vegees to look “real”, I will use daikon radish, instead of skinny carrot, HA!
    tomo-food/penis/vagina belong to the same category. We all eat them!

    Yamahomo on

  • Dashi does sound like a good replacement, thanks. I’ve used mirin before, but that’s only because my parents don’t know there’s alcohol in it ;) (and I’m not telling).

    Craig on

  • “Food/penis/vagina belong to the same category. We all eat them!”

    You have a way with words, Yama— which is why you are here.

    kayoko on

  • Craig, that’s a tough question. Can you at least use mirin? If not, I will probably use dashi (check Yoko’s recipe on dashi) instead. It may be less flavorful, but should be good enough.

    Yamahomo on

  • Craig- thanks for stopping in! Yoko’s definitive guide to making dashi can be found here:

    Let us know how your sauce turns out!

    kayoko on

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