Three Budget-Friendly Recipes Using Tsuyu | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
a photo of somen noodles served on ice with tsuyu sauce in the background

Three Budget-Friendly Recipes Using Tsuyu

By Emma Saragai Jul 5, 2022

Since tsuyu (梅雨), Japan’s rainy season has ended a little earlier than expected, why not try using a bit of tsuyu sauce (汁) to help combat the high temperatures of Japan’s scorching summers?

Health Benefits of Tsuyu

Tsuyu, also often referred to as mentsuyu (麺汁), is most commonly used as a soup base or as a dressing in Japanese cooking. Made originally by adding condiments such as soy sauce, mirin, and sake to a bonito dashi stock, tsuyu sauce often adds a slightly sweet but salty umami flavour.

Not only is it flavourful, but it’s also full of added health benefits, too! Tsuyu is chock full of Vitamin B, and its low-fat content makes for a healthy but tasty addition to any meal.

a photo of hiyayakko covered in tsuyu and spring onion

Image credit: Canva

Hiyayakko (冷ややっこ)

Hiyayakko is a tofu-based dish that can be almost entirely customised based on your preferences. It is most commonly eaten with either a soy sauce or tsuyu base using things such as bonito, spring onions and ginger as toppings. However, the best thing to do is add what you like and go crazy with it!

Traditionally eaten cold, this tsuyu-based dish makes for a perfect seasonal hot-weather starter and can be finished in under 10 minutes!

An easy recipe for Hiyayakko:

    • 150g soft kinu tofu (絹豆腐)
    • 1tbsp tsuyu
    • 1tbsp water
    • 1/4 tsp grated ginger


    • Bonito flakes
    • Spring onion
    • Umeboshi pickled plum
    • Shiso leaf
    • Nori seaweed
  1. Mix the tsuyu and water together before placing the mixture to one side.
  2. Next, drain the tofu and place it on a plate, making sure not to break its shape.
  3. Add the ginger and other toppings to the top of the tofu.
  4. Finally, add the tsuyu mixture and enjoy!

(To make this vegan, try making your own vegan tsuyu from scratch, substituting the bonito used in the broth for kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms)!

a photo of somen noodles on top of ice with some being dipped into tsuyu sauce

Image credit: Canva

Somen (素麵)

Somen is one of my favourite noodles to eat cold. Not only is it super quick to prepare, but it tastes great dipped in tsuyu. This low-calorie meal is a popular summer food in Japan and is usually eaten cold and served with ice!

An easy recipe for Somen:

    • One bundle of Somen noodles
    • 50ml tsuyu
    • 50ml water (adjust to suit your tastes)
    • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
    • 1tsp chopped spring onion
    • 650ml boiled water
    • Bowl of ice water


  1. Before anything, put 650ml water on to boil.
  2. While your water is boiling, prepare the tsuyu dipping sauce by mixing the water, tsuyu spring onion and grated ginger together before setting it aside.
  3. If you are using shabu shabu pork, boil in water for a couple of minutes or until cooked through, making sure not to overcook the pork.
  4. Once the water is brought to a boil, add the somen, letting it cook for around 2 minutes (make sure to check the packaging).
  5. Prepare your ice bowl and then place the noodles inside once they are cooked through, making sure to rinse the starch off, so the noodles don’t stick together.
  6. Drain the noodles and plate them (alongside the boiled pork) before adding any topping such as nori or sesame seeds and placing them to serve.
  7. Finally, place your dipping sauce in small bowls alongside the noodles (and pork) and enjoy!

If you want to go even healthier, why not try substituting the somen noodles for soba buckwheat noodles, which are not only low fat but full of fibre? (Make sure to check that they are made from 100% buckwheat flour!)

a photo of a bowl of takikomi gohan with a ladle inside

Image credit: Canva

Takikomi Gohan (炊き込みご飯)

Takikomi gohan is one of my favourite rice dishes. Not only is it easy to make (you just throw everything in a rice cooker), but it’s tasty too. Usually, takikomi gohan is made using mirin and soy sauce; however, using tsuyu is a small cheat that will save you time while still tasting good!

An easy recipe for Takikomi Gohan:

    • 2 cups of rice (rice cups)
    • Enough water for 2 cups of water
    • 1 boneless chicken thigh
    • 1 tbsp tsuyu (for chicken)
    • 1/2 pack of oyster mushrooms
    • 1/4 burdock root
    • 1/2 carrot
    • 60ml tsuyu (for rice)
    • 1/3 pack konnyaku
    • 1 piece aburaage (fried tofu)
  1. Firstly, wash and drain the rice, making sure to get rid of as much starch as possible.
  2. Then, cut the chicken into thin strips before pouring the tablespoon of tsuyu over it and placing it to the side.
  3. Next, cut the burdock root, carrot, mushrooms, konnyaku and aburaage into small strips.
  4. Add the rice, 60ml of tsuyu, a pinch of salt, and enough water for two cups of rice to a rice cooker and mix well.
  5. Finally, place the veg and the chicken on top of the rice and press start!

Why not try customising this dish? If you’re vegetarian, you can try substituting the chicken for something like edamame beans!

Trying Cooking With Tsuyu This Tsuyu!

Not only are these recipes delicious and super easy to make, but they’re also all extremely budget-friendly. 

Ingredients such as tofu and somen are some of the cheapest on the Japanese market, meaning that you can enjoy a refreshing, healthy and delicious meal for only a couple hundred yen!

Why don’t you try cooking with tsuyu?

Related Articles:

A Quick Guide to Different Types of Tofu

Featured image credit: Canva