Yum yum sauce is a sweet and tangy sauce that is commonly served with meals like sushi, rice bowls, and stir fries. It has a smooth, creamy texture and an orange-pink color. The main ingredients in yum yum sauce are mayonnaise and sriracha. So at its core, yum yum sauce is a blend of mayo and sriracha chili sauce. However, there are some additional ingredients that are commonly added to give yum yum sauce its signature flavor profile. Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients that go into this popular sauce!
Mayonnaise forms the creamy, emulsified base of yum yum sauce. Traditional mayo is made by slowly adding oil to egg yolks while whisking vigorously. This process forms a smooth, thick emulsion. The richness of the egg yolks and oil is what gives mayonnaise its signature creamy texture. Mayonnaise provides the body and smooth texture in yum yum sauce. It also contributes to the tangy flavor.
Sriracha is the spicy component of yum yum sauce. This chili sauce originates from Thailand. It’s made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Sriracha has a thick, pourable consistency and a bright red color. The chili peppers give sriracha its characteristic heat, while the vinegar and garlic provide a tangy, pungent flavor. When blended with creamy mayo, sriracha contributes a spicy kick and vinegary bite to yum yum sauce. The level of heat can be adjusted depending on personal preference.
While mayo and sriracha make up the foundation, sugar is another essential ingredient in yum yum sauce. Sugar balances out the heat from the sriracha and adds sweetness. White granulated sugar or honey may be used. The sugar rounds out the flavors and results in a sauce that combines savory, sweet, spicy, and tangy elements.
Rice vinegar is commonly used in yum yum sauce recipes. Rice vinegar provides a mild acidity and subtle sweetness that complements the other ingredients. Its low acidic level gives just enough tartness without being overpowering. The rice vinegar works together with the sriracha vinegar to add a complex, tangy flavor.
Garlic adds an aromatic flavor and odor to yum yum sauce. Raw garlic or garlic powder may be used. The pungent garlic combines with the sriracha to give the sauce an extra punch of flavor. Garlic lovers may want to use extra for a more robust garlic taste.
A small amount of sesame oil is used in some yum yum sauce recipes. Sesame oil has a strong, nutty flavor that enriches the sauce. Just a few drops of this aromatic oil can provide a toasty sesame note.
Some recipes call for freshly grated ginger. Ginger has a sharp, spicy kick that makes a nice accompaniment to the chilies in the sriracha. It adds another layer of flavor and a little heat.
Standard Recipe & Ratio
Here is a standard yum yum sauce recipe with the typical ratio of ingredients:
Yum Yum Sauce
– 1 cup mayonnaise
– 2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
– 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
– pinch of freshly grated ginger
As you can see, mayonnaise makes up the bulk of the sauce. Sriracha is added to taste depending on how spicy you want the sauce to be. Rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger are supporting ingredients that enhance the flavor.
The mayonnaise and sriracha are combined first before the other ingredients are stirred in. This standard recipe can be tweaked according to personal preferences. More or less sriracha, garlic, or ginger can be added as desired.
Purpose of Each Ingredient
Let’s quickly recap the purpose and role of each ingredient:
- Mayonnaise – creamy base, texture, tangy flavor
- Sriracha – spice, heat, vinegary flavor
- Rice vinegar – mild tartness, sweetness
- Sugar – sweetness, balances spice
- Garlic – aroma, pungent flavor
- Sesame oil – nutty, aromatic flavor
- Ginger – spice, heat, flavor
When these components come together, you get a sauce that hits all the flavor notes – sweet, creamy, spicy, tangy. This combination is what makes yum yum sauce so craveable!
While mayo and sriracha are the core ingredients, there are many possible variations on yum yum sauce by using different supporting ingredients. Here are just a few ideas:
– Use a spicy sriracha variety like sambal olek for extra heat
– Add a pinch of five spice powder for a more complex flavor
– Use orange juice or marmalade instead of sugar for sweetness
– Swap in rice wine vinegar or champagne vinegar for a different tangy note
– Add a teaspoon of miso paste for umami and richness
– Use sesame seeds or peanut butter for nuttiness
– Add a few drops of fish sauce for a savory boost
– Substitute Greek yogurt for a portion of the mayo to make it lower fat
The possibilities are endless! Adjust the ingredients to cater the sauce to your tastes. Yum yum sauce is highly customizable, so have fun experimenting.
How Did Yum Yum Sauce Originate?
The origins of yum yum sauce are murky. There are a few different theories about how this sauce came about. Here are some of the main origin stories:
Japanese steakhouse origin
One belief is that yum yum sauce was created by Japanese steakhouse chefs. They reportedly came up with the sauce as a dip for their meals like hibachi and teppanyaki. The sweet and spicy flavor profile pairs especially well with grilled meats and fried rice. From there it became a popular sauce beyond steakhouse menus.
California sushi origin
Another account credits sushi chefs in California for inventing yum yum sauce. They developed it as a sauce for spicy tuna rolls that would appeal to American tastes. The creamy, tangy sauce helped make sushi more enticing and approachable. It quickly became a staple sauce served with sushi all over the U.S.
Hidden Valley origin
There is also a theory that yum yum sauce grew out of another pre-existing sauce called “Samurai Sauce.” This sauce was produced by Hidden Valley Ranch back in the 1990s. It had a similar flavor profile to yum yum sauce with mayo, horseradish, and spices. Yum yum sauce may have evolved from this base recipe.
No definitive history
Unfortunately, there is no definitive documentation on the true origins of the sauce. The name “yum yum sauce” became widespread in the 1990s and 2000s. But the exact roots remain uncertain. What we do know for sure is it has clearly become a staple condiment pairing for many Asian-American dishes over the past few decades.
Is Yum Yum Sauce the Same as Other Sauces?
Yum yum sauce is sometimes confused with other sweet and spicy condiments. Here’s how it compares to a few similar sauces:
Duck sauce has a thicker, more syrupy texture than yum yum sauce. It is made from plums, apricots, sugar, vinegar, ginger, and spices. The flavor is predominantly sweet and sour. While both are sweet sauces, yum yum has a spicy kick from sriracha that duck sauce lacks.
Sweet chili sauce
Sweet chili sauce contains garlic, vinegar, sugar, and chili peppers like yum yum. But it uses more whole chilies rather than sriracha sauce. It also doesn’t contain mayonnaise, so the texture is thinner and the flavor is more vinegary.
Japanese Kewpie mayo has a subtle sweetness from rice vinegar and MSG. On its own, it’s thicker than yum yum sauce and isn’t spicy. But Kewpie mayo can be used as the mayo component when making homemade yum yum sauce.
Fry sauce also contains both mayo and ketchup or hot sauce. But the flavors are reversed from yum yum – fry sauce is primarily tangy from ketchup/vinegar with a bit of spicy pepper flavor. Yum yum starts with the spicy sriracha as the star ingredient.
Pairings and Uses
Here are some of the most popular ways to use yum yum sauce:
- Dipping sauce for fried foods like potstickers, egg/spring rolls, tempura, french fries
- Dressing for cold noodle salads
- Sauce for rice bowls
- Dipping sauce for grilled meats
- Dressing for coleslaw or cabbage salads
- Sauce for poke bowls
- Dipping sauce for summer rolls
- Sandwich spread
- Burger topping
- Chicken wing sauce
- Satay sauce
- Salad dressing base when mixed with oil & vinegar
Essentially any food that could use a creamy, sweet and tangy sauce with a kick of heat is a great match for yum yum. The sauce pairs especially well with fried appetizers, egg rolls, noodles, rice, fish, chicken, and sandwiches.
Yum yum sauce is highly versatile both as a dip and sauce. Try drizzling it on top of a grain bowl, using it as a dip for dumplings, mixing it into coleslaw, or using it as a sandwich spread – the possibilities are endless! It can spices up any meal.
Is Making Homemade Yum Yum Sauce Worth It?
Yum yum sauce is readily available at grocery stores for about $3 to $4 for a 12 ounce bottle. So is it worth making from scratch at home? Here are the pros and cons of homemade vs. store-bought yum yum sauce:
Benefits of homemade:
- Control the flavor exactly how you like it
- Make it as spicy or mild as preferred
- Use fresh, quality ingredients
- Avoid preservatives and stabilizers
- Cheaper per ounce than store-bought
- Fun, simple recipe to make
Downsides of homemade:
- Takes more time and effort
- Doesn’t last as long as store-bought
- Have to make it in batches rather than grab from the fridge
- Can be tricky getting the perfect texture
Overall, if you have 10 minutes to quickly mix up a batch, homemade yum yum sauce is worth considering. You can customize it to your preferences and avoid any additives. But for convenience, the store-bought versions are decent quality. Whipping up your own makes a fun weekend cooking project!
How to Make Homemade Yum Yum Sauce
If you want to give homemade yum yum sauce a try, here is a simple recipe to follow:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons honey or sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- Pinch of grated ginger (optional)
- Combine the mayonnaise, sriracha, rice vinegar, garlic, honey, sesame oil, and ginger (if using) in a bowl.
- Whisk together until completely smooth and uniform.
- Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Add more sriracha for spiciness, sugar for sweetness, or vinegar for tang.
- Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving for best results.
- Store leftover homemade yum yum sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
The great thing about homemade sauce is you can customize it to your tastes. Like it extra garlicky? Add one more clove. Want it spicier? Use an extra spoonful of sriracha. You’re in total control of the flavor.
Should You Refrigerate Yum Yum Sauce?
Whether it’s homemade or store-bought, proper storage of yum yum sauce is important for food safety. Here are some tips:
- Refrigeration is highly recommended. The mayonnaise in yum yum sauce can go rancid if left at room temperature too long. Refrigeration preserves freshness and prevents bacteria growth.
- Keep yum yum sauce in an airtight container in the fridge after opening. This prevents it absorbing fridge odors.
- Let sauce come to room temp before serving for best flavor and texture.
- Bring just the portion needed to room temp rather than the whole batch.
- Consume within 1 week for homemade or by use-by date for store-bought.
So in summary, yum yum sauce will last longest and taste freshest if refrigerated. Be sure to seal it tight and consume within a week once opened.
Can You Freeze Yum Yum Sauce?
Freezing is another storage method to extend the shelf life of yum yum sauce. Here’s what to know about freezing yum yum sauce:
- It can be frozen, but texture and flavor may degrade over time.
- Sauce may separate after thawing requiring re-mixing.
- For best quality, use within 2 months of freezing.
- Transfer to freezer safe container leaving headspace.
- Ensure no air trapped in container before sealing.
- Thaw overnight in fridge before using.
- Avoid freezing and thawing more than 1-2 times.
Freezing isn’t ideal, but can work in a pinch if you make a large batch. Just keep the time frozen minimal. Refrigerating and consuming within a week is better for preserving fresh yum yum sauce.
Yum yum sauce has a simple core formula of mayonnaise, sriracha, and a few supporting ingredients like rice vinegar, sugar, and garlic. While it originated from Asian cuisine, it has become a ubiquitous American condiment. You can find it at restaurants from sushi joints to sandwich shops. Yum yum sauce strikes the perfect balance of creamy, sweet, tangy, and spicy. It’s extremely versatile on everything from seafood to burgers. While store-bought versions are readily available, yum yum sauce is easy to quickly whip up at home too. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated properly no matter what. Now go enjoy yum yum sauce on all your favorite foods!