The Secret to Japanese Cooking: Soy Sauce, Dashi & Mirin

In every popular cuisine, there are three essential ingredients that make up the cornerstone of flavours that give that classic, instantly recognisable taste. In Japanese food these three main ingredients are soy sauce, dashi and mirin.
By combining these three sauces together, you can season many Japanese dishes with that quintessential Japanese flavour. So whether you are making chicken teriyaki, hot-pots, Japanese style omelettes or even noodle soup, learning how to use these ingredients together is the first step to creating delicious Japanese food. Read on for our guide to the holy trinity of Japanese cooking.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a fantastic Japanese condiment that is made from fermented soy beans, wheat and brewer’s alcohol and has become the basic sauce for all Japanese cuisine due to its rich, umami taste. Of course, it can be used for dipping your sushi into, but soy sauce really shines when used in cooking to bring out the flavours.

Check out the range of soy sauce available at Japan Centre.


Dashi is a Japanese stock that is made from boiling konbu kelp and katsuobushi bonito flakes in water to extract the umami flavour. The rich, umami-infused liquid dashi is used as a soup base for noodle and miso soups, as well as a classic flavouring for a variety of Japanese dishes.

Check the range of dashi available at Japan Centre.

If you are interested in reading more about dashi and how you can make it home with traditional ingredients, make sure to check our dashi blog article here.


Mirin is a sweet sake rice wine that is used for cooking. Unlike normal sake for drinking, mirin contains 40-50% sugar and a lower alcohol percentage at 14%. Mirin is used to give a slightly sweet taste that is common in some Japanese foods such as teriyaki sauce and can also help to lighten dishes with particularly strong smells like fish.

Check out the range of mirin available at Japan Centre.

Mix them for maximum taste benefits

It is recommended in Japanese cuisines to mix these three ingredients in the correct ratio to get the best flavour. This ratio is 8:1:1 with eight parts of dashi to one part each of soy sauce and mirin. As Dashi is usually just water with the infused flavour of konbu and katsuobushi, this ratio gives a perfect balance of sweet, salty and umami flavours!

Delicious recipes to try

There a a fantastic number of traditional and delicious Japanese recipes that you can make with this holy trinity of essential Japanese flavourings. Check out the recipes for these classic dishes on the Japan Centre website and find all the ingredients needed to make them online:

Soba Noodle Soup
Oyakodon Chicken & Egg Donburi
Nikujaga Meat & Potato Stew
Oden Japanese Hot Pot

Have you tried dashi, mirin or soy? Let us know in the comments below!