• Sesame oil comes in different grades of intensity from these nutty seeds. (Shoko Muraguchi/Flikr)Source: Shoko Muraguchi/Flikr

Along with ponzu, this sesame sauce is one of the most versatile In Japanese cuisine. 

2 cups





Skill level

Average: 3.8 (40 votes)


  • ½ cup white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup sesame oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Toast the sesame seeds by placing them in a small dry saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the saucepan to stir until the seeds are golden brown and fragrant then remove from the pan and set aside. Return the saucepan to the heat and add the sake and mirin and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

Add the caster sugar to the sesame seeds and grind to a smooth paste (see Note). Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and 1–2 tbsp cold water and continue to grind to a smooth and creamy sauce.

This sauce can be mixed into other preparations like:

Sesame dressing

Mix the base sesame sauce 3:1:1 with rice vinegar and water (e.g. 3 tbsp sesame sauce with 1 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp water).


Sesame mayonnaise

Mix the base sesame sauce 1:1 with Japanese mayonnaise.



• Toasting sesame seeds brings out their flavour and makes them easier to grind, particularly if you're using a Japanese mortar and pestle. You can use an ordinary mortar and pestle instead. 


Recipe from The Zen Kitchen by Adam Liaw (Hachette Australia, $49.99 hbk).


Image by Shoko Muraguchi via Flikr