Ever wondered what that delicious dipping sauce you often find at Japanese Hibachi restaurants is? The pale pink, creamy one that goes well with almost everything? Yeah, that’s called Yum Yum sauce! But what is it exactly? What is it made of, taste like, and pair best with? Here is everything you are going to want to know.
So what is this Yum Yum sauce? Yum Yum sauce is a mayo-based dipping sauce that contains tomato paste, garlic powder, spices, sugar, and hot sauce. Its sweet flavor with the hint of spice kick makes it a popular sauce amongst visitors of Japanese grills.
Yum Yum sauce is something you’ll find at almost every Japanese hibachi restaurant in Canada or America!
Even though it’s super popular at Japanese steakhouses and grills, it’s not Japanese in origin.
Surprisingly, the sauce is a North American invention and not very commonly available in Japan itself!
However, if you’re visiting a Japanese eatery in the USA or Canada, you will likely find a serving of Yum Yum sauce on your table, giving it the alternate name of Japanese shrimp sauce!
The sauce is also known as hibachi sauce, white sauce, sakura sauce, and shrimp sauce.
However, the name Yum Yum sauce best describes it given its popularity and mass appeal.
Some people even said they sometimes crave the sauce more than the main dish, and that says something about how addicting it is!
So if you’re wondering what makes this sauce as good as it is and what actually goes into it, let’s dive into it.
What Is Yum Yum Sauce Made Of?
Yum Yum Sauce is made of mayonnaise, sugar, paprika, hot sauce, tomato sauce or tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, rice vinegar, and if you have it, some mirin. Mirin is a special type of Japanese sweet wine that really takes the flavor up a notch.
Those are the usual ingredients that most people use for their Yum Yum sauce.
The real magic lies in each person’s ratio of different ingredients and the quality of ingredients they’re using.
For example, some people might be using a more concentrated tomato paste while others might just use ketchup, making the overall taste of the sauce differ.
Similarly, some people might replace paprika with smoked paprika to give it that smoked-in flavor, which might be more appealing for some.
Some people like to increase the spice level by adding a touch of cayenne to the sauce.
Which again, really changes how the sauce tastes overall.
To give you a better idea here’s a basic recipe for Yum Yum sauce.
Homemade Yum Yum Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup plain mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp mirin if you have it
- 1 tbsp butter (melted)
- 1 tbsp of water (add one more tbsp if you didn’t add mirin)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Splash of hot sauce to taste
- Add everything to a mixing bowl
- Mix until well combined
- Taste to check if you need to add anything else
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be good for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long!)
If you want, you can also add cayenne to the same recipe if you like your food spicy.
You can also use some kind of low-fat mayo and replace the sugar with a sweetener of your choice to make a weight watcher’s version of it.
There are also a number of different branded products on the market.
Sometimes sold as Yum Yum, or the alternate names I mentioned before (hibachi sauce, white sauce, sakura sauce).
Nevertheless, here are some typical recipes of the major brands.
Starting with Terry Ho’s:
Soybean Oil, Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Egg Yolks, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Mustard Seed, Dehydrated Garlic, Hot Sauce (Peppers, Vinegar, Salt Xanthan Gum), Tomato Paste, Paprika, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Propylene Glycol Alginate, Calcium Disodium Edta (To Protect Flavor), Polysorbate 80, White Pepper, Spice.
And then G Hughes:
Water, Canola Oil, Salted Egg Yolk, Sriracha Sauce (Chili Peppers, Sorbitol, Vinegar, Salt, Garlic, Xanthan Gum, Beet Powder, Natural Flavor), Tomato Paste, Vinegar, Contains 2% or less of Cider Vinegar, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Mustard Flour, Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Spice, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika Extractive (Color), Xanthan Gum, Sucralose, Potassium Sorbate, and Calcium Disodium, EDTA (To Preserve Freshness).
So as you can see some overlap and variation too.
Though these sauces are based on mayonnaise with other ingredients to give this sauce its heat!
Read more: Yum Yum Sauce Nutrition
What Does Yum Yum Sauce Taste Like?
Yum Yum sauce tastes creamy, with a hint of sweetness, a slight spice kick, and flavors of garlic and onion.
It’s comparable to different variations of mayonnaise you can find at the store, like sriracha mayo or spicy mayo.
But since Yum Yum sauce also contains onion and garlic powder, it has a more complex flavor profile, making it more delicious.
Due to that very reason, Yum Yum sauce can complement a wider variety of foods, from grilled meat, plain vegetables to fried rice and noodles!
What To Eat Yum Yum Sauce With?
The beauty of Yum Yum sauce is that you can pair it with anything savory, and it will taste good! Commonly, people like to pair it with grilled meat or shrimp, fried prawns, fried rice, noodles, french fries, and even plain cut vegetables!
You can use Yum Yum sauce in so many different ways!
You can use it as a dipping sauce for tortilla chips, french fries, fried prawns, grilled meat, grilled tofu, and shrimp.
Or you can use it as a drizzle over tacos, rice bowls, sushi, and salads. You can even slather it in between sandwiches or burgers to level up your serving game.
Honestly, the possibilities are endless!
Once you try having your food with this sauce, you’ll never want to be without it.
What Is Similar To Yum Yum sauce?
Yum Yum sauce is pretty similar to different variants of mayonnaise! It’s comparable to siracha mayo, bbq-flavored mayo, or other dazzled-up versions of mayo that contain some kind of spice or seasoning.
If you’ve had McDonald’s and tried their infamous big mac sauce, that is pretty close to what Yum Yum sauce tastes like.
If you’re looking to substitute the sauce, you can try mixing some kind of sweet-spicy sauce like sriracha or sweet chili Thai sauce with mayo to get something similar.
If you haven’t tried Yum Yum sauce yet, you’re missing out!
You can easily find it at any Japanese steakhouse or hibachi restaurant, or it might be available at the supermarket under a brand name.
That being said, I highly recommend making the effort of preparing your own Yum Yum sauce at home.
Because it’s so versatile, you’ll end up using it in some way.
If nothing, you have an amazing sauce to go with your fries, and that never sounded like a loss to anyone.
Over to you. Enjoy!
Looking to buy some? Here is where to buy yum yum sauce.
Spicy mayo is a blend of mayonnaise and hot sauce and sometimes a few other ingredients. On the other hand, yum-yum sauce is based on a recipe of mayonnaise, tomato paste and generally has much less heat.
Yum Yum sauce does not typically contain milk. The creaminess instead comes from the inclusion of mayonnaise, which is typically made from eggs/egg yolk.
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.