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Is Eel Sauce Vegan? Explore Eel Sauce & Find Out The Answer In 2023
Eel sauce is mostly used in freshwater eel preparation, known as unagi in Japanese. It’s also used in saltwater eel flavoring, commonly known as Anago in Japanese.
The answer is that eel sauce suits a vegan diet if made with plant-based ingredients. Commonly, the sauce is made of non-vegan sugar, sweet Japanese rice wine (which may not be vegan), also called mirin, and soy sauce. Some vegans have problems with the sugar content, especially if made in North America, as white cane sugar is processed with bone char, an animal derivative.
In this article, you will learn more about eel sauce. We will also address the concern when eel sauce is not considered vegan-friendly, its nutritional benefits, and what you can use to substitute it. If you only prefer vegan food, please stick around as we uncover this delicious condiment.
Is Eel Sauce Considered Vegan?
No, traditional eel sauce is not truly vegan, depending on its ingredients. For example, vegan eel sauce recipes use plant-based ingredients without any animal products. The exception is the addition of cane sugar, which many vegans do not consider appropriate for their vegan philosophy, making it non-vegan.
Truly vegan-friendly eel sauce is commonly made of soy sauce, vegan mirin, organic sugar, and sake. You can also add different ingredients like onion, ginger, and vinegar for flavor, depending on your taste.
To ensure you have genuine vegan eel sauce, read the ingredients label. Make sure the sugar is vegan-friendly. Alternatively, you can make your own sauce.
Is Eel Sauce Vegan Friendly?
No, most eel sauces are not vegan-friendly, depending on their ingredients. Although there are many vegan-friendly eel sauces, many brands are non-vegan, and many vegan-labeled brands contain non-vegan sugar. This is why checking eel sauce ingredients is essential before you buy or use it.
Vegan-friendly eel sauce, commonly known as vegan unagi or plant-based eel sauce, is crafted without animal-derived ingredients except for the type of sugar used; then you must read the label carefully to ensure the presence of vegan-friendly sugar. Instead, it comprises plant ingredients with a savory and sweet sauce flavor profile.
To buy vegan-friendly eel sauce in stores, go for brands labeled as “plant-based eel sauce” or “vegan unagi sauce.” Alternatively, you can find homemade eel sauce recipes and craft your own from scratch.
With the right vegan eel sauce, you can enjoy unique flavors of Japanese cuisine that align with your diet and ethical preferences.
When Is Eel Sauce Not Vegan?
Eel sauce crafted with animal by-products or animal products is not considered vegan. The following ingredients make an eel sauce unsuitable for a vegan diet.
- Eel Bones and Heads: Eel bones, heads, and other ingredients give a distinctive flavor when mixed and added to the sauce. But, these are not suitable for a vegan diet.
- Non-Vegan Sweeteners: Eel sauces with sweeteners like honey and cane sugar make the sauce non-vegan. This is because honey is derived from bees. A vegan diet only allows the use of plant-based sugars in recipes, such as organic sugar or coconut sugar..
- Fish-Based Ingredients: Some brands of eel sauce use fish by-products like fish stock, extract, or sauce to add flavor. Hence, the resulting product is non-vegan.
If you notice any of the above ingredients, please note it’s not suitable for a vegan diet. Instead, look for plant-based substitutes to get a similar flavor.
What Is Eel Sauce?
Eel sauce is a savory and sweet flavoring made from thick, sweet soy sauce mirin. You can drizzle or glaze various dishes depending on your preferences.
From grilled foods like seafood, sashimi, meat, and vegan sushi rolls, eel sauce has many uses as a savory add-on.
Eel Sauce Ingredients
Eel sauce ingredients vary with the recipe and your expected end results. Here are common ingredients in the most flavorful sauces.
- Soy Sauce: Regular soy sauce is used as the sauce base. It’s preferred due to its umami-rich, salty flavor. The sauce is made from fermenting cooked wheat, soybeans, water, and salt.
- Mirin: This rice wine adds a slight sweetness to the sauce. Also, this sugar strikes a balance out of the soy sauce’s saltiness, giving it a glossy look. Rice wine may not be vegan, depending on its processing, since many brands use isinglass or fish bladder for clarification.
- Sugar: You can use organic sugar or a sweetener like coconut sugar to enhance the sauce’s sweetness. Sugar also helps the sauce to caramelize with slight cooking. Do not use cane sugar as it is processed with bone char, particularly sugars made in North America.
- Sake: Sometimes, you can add sake–sweet Japanese wine rice for a more flavorful taste by complementing the other ingredients.
- Optional Additional Flavors: You can add other ingredients according to your recipe to enhance the sauce’s complexity. Garlic, dashi stock, ginger, vinegar, and onion can be added, among other aromatic ingredients.
Why Is It Called Eel Sauce?
Eel sauce is a sweet and savory sauce served with eel dishes in Japanese cuisine. Despite its name, eel sauce does not contain actual eels.
The name eel sauce originates from its everyday use with eel-centered dishes but not from including eel. This condiment is loved for adding a delightful balance of sweet and savory flavors and enhancing the texture of various dishes.
Eel Sauce Nutritional Benefits
Eel sauce is a delicious condiment for sushi and grilled vegetables. Besides adding flavor, the sauce is loaded with essential nutrients for your body.
- Packed with antioxidants: Vegan eel sauce has useful antioxidants which may help improve overall health.
- Vitamins and Minerals: This sauce contains significant vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. These nutrients help to maintain healthy joints and bones, improve the immune system, and enhance general physical performance.
Although eel sauce has useful nutritional benefits, it is high in calories and sodium. A one-ounce serving size has approximately 100 calories and 1,084 mg of sodium. Due to this, it’s not recommended if you are on a weight loss journey or if you have high blood pressure.
However, you can improve the health profile of eel sauce by making the sauce yourself and adding nutritious ingredients in optimal quantities.
Other Vegan Substitutes For Eel Sauce
If you’re looking for vegan substitutes for eel sauce, consider the following options:
Traditional teriyaki sauce recipes incorporate honey. However, a vegan teriyaki sauce can be easily made with soy sauce, mirin, organic sugar, and a dash of ginger and garlic. You must only adjust the sweetness and thickness to mimic the traditional eel sauce.
You can use vegan oyster sauce in place of eel sauce. Regular oyster sauce is not vegan, so read the label. It has a savory, sweet, and outstanding flavor.
You may substitute vegan-based soy eel sauce to add a salty and delicious flavor to your dishes. However, it has a lighter consistency.
Kikkoman Eel Sauce
This sauce has an intensely sweet flavor, making it suitable for sashimi and sushi. When shopping, look out for the Kikkoman eel sauce vegan label to ensure it is truly vegan.
This spicy and tangy chili sauce is made with chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. It’s completely vegan-friendly if vegan-friendly sugar is used, though with a different flavor profile than eel sauce.
When making vegan recipes, you can substitute animal products with plant products. For instance, portobello mushrooms make great vegan meat substitutes. Also, green powders are a great addition to provide color and nutritional benefits. Coconut and organic sugar can substitute for cane sugar.
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Eel sauce, a sweet and savory Japanese condiment, can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the ingredients added. Hence, it’s advisable to be careful with commercial eel sauce brands or use homemade eel sauce and always read labels thoroughly.
Eel sauce contains mirin, sugar, soy sauce, and sake. Although it’s called eel, a freshwater fish, it typically doesn’t contain animal products except for the type of sugar used.
The eel dipping sauce is advised to be used in moderation, as it is high in calories and sodium. Its main purpose is to be added sparingly to enhance the taste of the dishes it accompanies.
For a vegan meal replacement for eel sauce, you can use soy sauce-based glazes made with appropriate vegan-friendly sugar, chipotle tabasco hot sauce, Kikkoman eel sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Lastly, look for genuine vegan meal delivery services to get your vegan products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Eel sauce is a mix of sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and sake. This mix gives it a sweet and salty taste. However, some brands of eel sauce add other animal ingredients like fish stock. And, mirin is made from rice wine, which may not be vegan.
The answer is yes and no. Many eel sauces don’t include fish, but some brands of eel sauce may contain fish-based extracts or additives for flavor.
Commercial eel brands sometimes add ingredients like eel eggs for flavor or texture. So, before buying, it’s important to read the ingredient label. You can also make your own vegan eel sauce.
Yes, vegetarians can eat eel sauce.
No, it doesn’t have eel in it. The word eel comes from its common use with eel-based dishes.
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