What is the difference between soy sauce and ponzu?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “What is the difference between soy sauce and ponzu?” and discuss each sauce individually. 

What is the difference between soy sauce and ponzu?

Although soy sauce and ponzu sauce have a similar colour, they are two completely separate sauces with diverse flavour profiles that are paired with distinct foods. 

Ponzu is made with rice wine, rice vinegar, bonito fish flakes, and citrus. Ponzu sauce is a salty, sweet, bitter, and acidic condiment that is all in one swallow. 

It has a dark brown colour and a vinaigrette-like consistency, making it perfect for slathering over soba noodles, sauces, or meat dishes like ceviche or tuna tataki. Its tangy flavour cuts through the heaviness of gyoza and tempura. 

Soy sauce, on the other hand, is simply fermented soybean liquid in saltwater. Soy sauce is a condiment with a strong saltiness and a moderately sweet, umami undertone. It’s a dark reddish-brown colour with a thin, runny texture that reminds me of ponzu. 

Soy sauce has been available since roughly 180BC and can be used to produce a marinade with other ingredients. It’s also great in stir-fries and stews, as well as a variety of other savoury Asian recipes. 

What is Ponzu Sauce?

Ponzu Sauce is a famous Japanese dipping sauce that is acidic and umami-rich. Use it as a marinade, a dipping sauce, a sprinkling sauce, a salad and vegetable vinaigrette, and a stir-fry sauce! 

This renowned Japanese citrus sauce is a versatile condiment that adds flavour and vitality to a wide range of dishes. Ponzu is derived from the old Dutch terms pons (meaning punch, as in a fruity beverage) and su (meaning vinegar), alluding to a sour fruit sauce. 

How to use Ponzu Sauce?

Ponzu is produced by simmering rice wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, bonito flakes, and seaweed in rice wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes, then adding fresh yuzu juice. 

This unusual mix of ingredients produces a rich soy-like sauce that is sweet, acidic, bitter, and salty all at the same time. This delicious sauce is quite flexible, and everyone has a favourite method to use it. Here are a few suggestions-

  • Serve with sashimi, shabu-shabu, steamed dumplings, gyoza, and another Japanese cuisine as a dipping sauce.
  • As a marinade for fish, seafood, steak, chicken, and pork
  • Vinaigrette your greens with it in a salad dressing.
  • Add to stir-fries, vegetables, cold noodles, tofu, brush on sushi, serve with tataki (lightly cooked fish or meat), or use as a finishing sauce for your main and side dishes. 

What are some tasty recipes using Ponzu Sauce?

Ponzu sauce is a fantastic Japanese spice that combines the refreshing citrus flavour of ponzu with the umami flavour of soy sauce. Here are the best uses for Ponzu Sauce: 

  • Fugu Sushi- Fugu-Sushi is frequently served with ponzu, a Japanese soy sauce. Wrapping green onion, grated daikon, and chilli in fugu and dipping it in ponzu sauce is a popular way to enjoy it.
  • Katsuo-no-tataki- Seared bonito slices are known as katsuo-no-tataki in Japan. If you eat the seared bonito sashimi with certain condiments (such as green onion, shiso, myoga, ginger, and garlic) and ponzu sauce, it will be incredibly excellent.
  • Hamburger Steak- Hamburger steak is usually served with demi-glace or ketchup sauce. However, ponzu sauce is another option. This ponzu sauce is incomplete without shiso and grated daikon.
  • Grilled Fish- Although it is a personal preference, Japanese folks frequently serve grilled fish with grated daikon and soy sauce. 

Citrus fruits like lemon and lime are sometimes added at that time. As a result, ponzu sauce can be used in place of soy sauce and citrus fruits.

  • Steamed chicken and vegetables- Ponzu sauce goes well with steamed dishes like steamed chicken and steamed veggies. Because they are a simple dish with a mild flavour, you can immediately appreciate the ponzu sauce’s sweetness.

What is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is made primarily from soybeans. Soy sauce is a salty, dark liquid condiment produced from fermented soybeans or soybeans that have been broken down with acid (hydrolyzing). 

This releases sugars and umami components, as well as gives soy sauce its distinctive brown colour. The additional brown colour is sometimes used in modern-day manufacture. 

Because wheat flour is usually used in the process, persons who are gluten intolerant should look for gluten-free and wheat-free alternatives, such as some varieties of Japanese tamari, which are typically vegan.

How to use Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce can be used as a meat marinade or braising liquid, as well as in stews and soups. It’s a simple way to add depth to your flavour, is unaffected by heat during cooking, and can give your dish a nice brown hue. 

It’s normally combined with the vegetables before adding the noodles to stir-fries, but more soy sauce can be added at any point during the cooking process. Soy sauce can also be served at the table as a condiment to enhance salt and taste as needed. 

What are some tasty recipes using Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is one of the most umami-rich and versatile foods on the planet. Here is a list of delicious dishes that use Soy Sauce as a dipping sauce, marinade, or to make a savoury broth- 

  • Supreme Soy Sauce Fried Noodles in Cantonese Style- Put on your chef’s hat and prepare for a working good time with the Cantonese Style Supreme Soy Sauce Fried Noodles. It’s a dim sum restaurant and Chinese family favourite that’s served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
  • Gai Bing- Are you a big lover of Thai street cuisine but don’t have the means to get there? Don’t worry, you can make your own Gai Bing at home now! Imagine yourself standing on the streets of Thailand, eating Gai Bing, with only four simple steps.
  • Golden Phoenix with Soy Sauce- The traditional roast chicken gets a tangy touch with the Golden Phoenix with Soy Sauce. This may be one of the best chicken dishes you’ve ever tried to make, crispy on the exterior and tender on the inside!
  • Ikan Goreng Kicap- The Ikan Goreng Kicap is the dish for you if you like fish. Fresh entire fish is marinated in turmeric powder and cornstarch before being deep-fried to a crispy golden glory and drizzled with umami-rich soy sauce. Top with finely julienned spring onions and a huge red chile and enjoy right away!
  • Malaysian Wonton Mee- Wonton mee, also known as wanton mee, is a popular Asian noodle dish. Fresh egg noodles coated in a distinctive dark soy sauce and topped with thick slices of char siew are sure to surprise your friends and family in this Malaysian rendition.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “What is the difference between soy sauce and ponzu?” and discussed each sauce individually. 

Hope this blog answers your question. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.