As a hapa, my cooking usually mixes a variety of different flavors to create a dish. One ingredient that I often find myself using is Ponzu. This tangy, citrus sauce adds a dimension of flavor that is like no other, especially when paired with seafood. Although Ponzu has found its way onto the shelves of mainstream grocery stores in the last few years, many still do not know what it is.

It is a citrus-based sauce most commonly used in Japanese cooking. The word pon is derived from the English word punch and su translates to vinegar. Hence, ponzu literally means “punch vinegar.”

Here are my tips and favorite ways of using Ponzu while cooking. Enjoy!



The tart flavor from the vinegar goes well with the rich, savory taste of dumplings, such as gyoza. The citrus notes from the Yuzu (a Japanese lemon) makes it more mild than the the black vinegar commonly found in Chinese cooking. Therefore it fits in well with simple, clean flavors of Japanese cuisine.

Ponzu is also commonly mixed with soy sauce which gives the sauce a lighter, sweet taste. This is used as a dressing for tataki (lightly seared, then sliced meat or fish). It can also be used as a dipping sauce for hot pot dishes such as shabu shabu or sashimi.


Salad dressing is one of the most common ways that I use this sauce at home. This fairly simple dressing will add an Asian flare to any meal. Enjoy!


  • 1 Tbsp of ponzu
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Add ponzu and olive oil into a small bowel.
  2. If desired, add additional ingredients such as sesame seeds or diced chilies.
  3. Mix ingredients together by whisking them with a fork.
  4. Pour dressing on top of salad and toss to combine. You could also set the dressing aside and let people add according to their own tastes.


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