Sanbaizu: Basic Recipes and Uses of the Vinegar Sauce

Have you ever heard of “Sanbaizu (三杯酢)”, a traditional Japanese vinegar sauce? For those who know little or nothing about the sauce but want to find out what it is, today I will talk about that.

Sanbaizu (三杯酢)

Sanbaizu is a liquid seasoning unique to Japan made by combining just 3 ingredients as “San (三)” means three in Japanese and the basic way to make it is very easy.


Vinegar and Soy Sauce

To get to the point, the 3 ingredients prepared for making Sanbaizu sauce are traditionally vinegar, mirin sweet cooking rice wine, and Shoyu or soy sauce. But sometimes, sugar is substituted for mirin.

The Chinese character or kanji “酢”, which can be pronounced either as “Su” or “Zu”, refers to vinegar, so either way the main ingredient of Sanbai-Zu is vinegar and Sanbaizu is a kind of vinegar sauce.

Basic Recipes

Sakazuki Sake Cup

The rest, the word in the name San-Bai-Zu, ”Bai (杯)” refers to “Sakazuki (盃)” or “sake cup”, and its meaning indicates, Sanbaizu used to be actually made with a sake cup in the past.

As I mentioned above, “San (三)” means three in Japanese, so the Japanese vinegar sauce, Sanbaizu was literally made using a sake cup three times.

Using Vinegar, Mirin, and Soy Sauce

This is why the mixing ratio of the three ingredients, Vinegar, Mirin, and Soy Sauce, for making the sauce, is traditionally 1:1:1.

However, in modern times, the commonly used mixing ratio of Vinegar, Mirin, and Soy Sauce for Sanbizu is 2:2:1. Either way, you just pour these 3 liquid seasonings into a bowl and mix well.

Vinegar Mirin Soy sauce
Traditional Sanbaizu 1 1 1
Common Sanbaizu 2 2 1

Using Vinegar, Soy Sauce, and Sugar

If you want to make Sanbaizu sauce with sugar, instead of mirin, the basic mixing ratio of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar is 3:1:2. Put the 3 seasonings into a bowl and stir well until the sugar is dissolved in the liquid.


Cucumber Salad with Sanbaizu

We usually use the vinegar sauce Sanbaizu as a marinade or a dressing. In the case of using it as a marinade, the sauce goes well with fried fish like horse mackerel, flounder, or sea bream.

Meanwhile, as a dressing, the Japanese vinegar sauce pairs especially well with fresh vegetables, like cucumber, and seaweed such as Mozuku.

Tokoroten Noodles with Sanbaizu Sauce

Additionally, as I wrote about it before, during the hot summer months, Japanese people often eat seaweed jelly noodles called “Tokoroten (ところてん)” with Sanbaizu sauce.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 三杯酢 )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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