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Ponzu sauce (Recipe: grilled chile-lime-ponzu chicken)

Ponzu chicken 

Do you know ponzu,

also spelled ponju?

It’s made from shoyu

mixed with yuzu.

Delicious with tofu.

And with shrimp.

Popular in Japanese cooking and adaptable to many recipes, ponzu is a citrus-flavored sauce, often used as a dipping sauce for sushi and tempura.

Traditionally, ponzu is made by simmering mirin with rice vinegar, bonito flakes and seaweed; then, after it comes to a boil, the mixture is strained and yuzu juice added, which gives the sauce a citrus undertone.


Ponzu shoyu, like the Kikkoman sauce in my pantry, contains naturally brewed soy sauce as well as vinegar, bonito, and citrus, plus sugar, which makes it an ideal marinade or glazing sauce. You can substitute this type of ponzu for soy sauce in many recipes.

Occasionally I can find ponzu in my local grocery store, and markets like Whole Foods carry an organic brand. More often, though, I head for the Asian markets, or shop online.

For a homemade version, use items that are already in your pantry: rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, lemon juice (or sometimes orange and lime juices), and dashi. Or simply add some lime juice to soy sauce, with a bit of sugar or agave nectar. Or add some hot chiles.

Try ponzu in soft-shell crab with ginger-ponzu sauce, quinoa with avocado, stir-fried beef with broccoli, pasta salad with ponzu vinaigrette, green tea chicken pasta or black cod ponzu yuzu.

Grilled chile-lime-ponzu chicken

Slice or shred the cooked chicken for sandwiches, noodle dishes, or nime chow. This marinade also works well for beef, fish or shellfish (reduce marinating time to 30 minutes), and tofu. Serves 3-4.


3 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts, tenderloin removed
1/4 cup ponzu
1 tsp chili paste with garlic
Juice of half a lime
2 tsp agave nectar or honey, or to taste
Pinch of salt and black pepper


Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag, and marinate for at least 4 hours, or up to 8 hours. Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes; turn and grill 5 minutes on the other side. Let sit for 10 minutes, then slice and serve over rice or in a wrap.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Ginger cabbage salad
Salmon fried rice
Beef and broccoli stir fry
Spicy chicken balls
Asian slaw
Teriyaki tofu wraps

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Oooh, ponzu is one of my favorite ingredients. It adds so much flavor! I love making a dipping sauce with it when I make gyoza.

That is jaw dropping! Pass me a fork please!

It's really versatile. When stocking my vacation kitchen in Hawaii, it was one of only around 4 pantry items I bought.

I always wondered what this sauce was like. You can't go wrong with Kikkoman. I think I'll pick some up. Your chicken looks so wonderful, I want some.

thanks for demystifying this sauce, dear lydia. i've stayed away from i because jai hates anything 'fishy' like bonito flakes. but i will try it for myself. i've tasted something made with it and quite liked it.

thanks for sharing this info... a great find here... will definitely get one and try your recipe... :)

I love this! I'm going to try the homemade version on some tofu tonight! Thanks Lydia, keep up the good work!

I too have wanted to jump onto the yuzu/ponzu bandwagon and can now make a facsimile. The recipes look great!

The beginning of this post reads like a rhyme. :) Ponzu sounds like a great ingredient to add to my tofu dishes... hmm, my wheels are a'turning.

Great photo! I love Ponzu. I remember when I could never find it in Utah and would stock up in LA when I visited Rand, but now I can get it here, even in my regular grocery store. The chicken recipe sounds fantastic.

Very interesting! Never heard of Ponzu before.


Never heard of Ponzu before. Once again, you've introduced me to an ingredient which I now absolutely must try!

That's how ponzu came from?! Yuzu and shoyu....hmmmm...I did not know that!

Now this looks like my kind of seasoning . Love everything in it!

I love using Ponzu sauce when I can find it. What a great idea to use it for marinating chicken. It sounds like a lovely dish!

(runs from keyboard to grocery store)

Lydia, I'm making this for dinner. 'Nuff said!

Fuji Mama, ponzu is a great dipping sauce, right out of the bottle.

MyKitchen, thanks!

Mae, that's a great endorsement. What were the other 3 items?

Natashya, Kikkoman does have a wide range of sauces; some are quite filled with sugar, but this one has the wonderful citrus flavor and I use it as an all-purpose soy sauce.

Bee, this has no fishy taste whatsoever, so please try it!

Mikky, hope you like it. Ponzu is very popular in our house.

Rebecca, with homemade, you can play with proportions until you get a sauce that is to your taste. Enjoy!

Callipygia, the homemade versions can be so interesting. I am lazy, of course, and love to have storebought ponzu in my pantry.

Ari, I had a lot of fun writing it. Thought about doing the whole post in rhyme, but I'm glad I didn't!

Kalyn, isn't it wonderful that so many ingredients that were once considered exotic are now available in the supermarket? I love that.

Paz, Toni: glad to have you meet a new ingredient. Now you will have to try it!

Tigerfish, if you find yuzu juice in the local market and mix it with soy sauce, you pretty much have ponzu. For me, yuzu juice is hard to find.

Veron, it's definitely my kind of seasoning, too. I love the combination of chile, citrus, and soy.

Susan, there are so many good homemade versions, but the easiest is really soy sauce with citrus (I like a mix of orange and lime).

Marilyn, invite me, please???

Checking the ponzu in my pantry, a surprise: made by Marukan, a 300 year old Japanese company, there's no soy sauce, no bonito; it has water, lemon juice, vinegar, citrus (sudachi)juice, citric acid, salt, natural flavor. And from Time-Life The Cooking of Japan (1969), equal parts lemon or lime juice, soy sauce (a simpler time in the US).
Now we have to do some taste testing. Sounds like a good project for the weekend.

I am seldom inspired to run out and buy a new pantry item, but this just looks too good to ignore.

Ponzu is great. I don't use it often enough though. This grilled chicken recipe is great - in time for BBQ season down-under. It's getting really warm here.

Susan, definitely sounds like taste testing is in order! You're lucky to find the Marukan brand; I used to see it in my Asian market, but not lately.

Ann, yes, go, shop! Then try this chicken, so simple but delicious.

Nora, we have BBQ all year, but something we're standing out in the snow to use the grill!

Another awesome recipe from you.
In the rare occasion when Yuzu is available, I always buy large amounts and make this from scratch. Such a nice seasoning for so many things.

Oh yes, I just love ponzu! Luckily, we're very close to a large Japanese American community and their markets are brimming with various kinds of ponzu.

Your dish is so simple and perfect for both everyday and special occasions. I need to share more of ponzu love with my friends. I always seem to just hoard it all to myself!

Jude, do you start with bottled yuzu juice? I wish I could find that at my market; it would be perfect for this.

WORC, welcome home! I'm surprised at how many people who love Asian food have never used or heard of ponzu. Yes, let's share the love. Ponzu for everyone!

ponzu, ponzu, ponzu... now just memorizing its name and get one later at store!

though I call myself a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, I don't have a bottle of ponzu in my pantry - How can that happen!! hehe ... the grilled chicken looks fantastic~ :)

This recipe is super delicious. My hubby loved it and he is super picky. It's definately a keeper.

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