You have likely had ponzu in a Japanese restaurant. It’s often served with fried items, where its lively mix of soy sauce, citrus, and the silky sweetness of mirin (rice wine) slacks the richness of anything fried while foregrounding the essence of the fried ingredient itself. In my backyard, I’ve employed ponzu to complement a range of grilled vegetables. Eggplant, onions, corn: Any mid-summer veggine shines with a side of ponzu. But I think I like it most with summer squash. You want to slice your squash into thinnish planks lengthwise. Lay them on the grill. No fat or oil; no salt. Let the first side char slightly, then flip. You’ll begin to see the pieces turn translucent. That’s how you know the squash have completed their lap on the grate. Dust them with salt and slick them with oil. You could use toasted sesame oil to echo the Japanese-ness of the ponzu. You could also employ extra-virgin olive oil.
- In a small saucepan, bring the sake and mirin to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for about a minute and remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, citrus juice, water, vinegar, and sake mixture. Taste. If you want it a little sweeter, add a touch of mirin. If you want it saltier, add some soy sauce. If you want it zippier, add more citrus juice. Serve with whatever grilled things you so desire.
Recipe by Scott Hocker
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.