The Umami-Packed Chinese Sauce That You Need To Get To Know

There's nothing better than taking a dish and punching it up with a healthy dose of the perfect sauce. A great sauce is an ideal tool to elevate meat and vegetables, and Chinese cooking offers a lot of great options, from hoisin to tamari. In particular, there's a sauce that rarely gets the attention some of the others do, but which offers an intense punch of flavor. I'm talking about sacha sauce.

Sacha is Chinese barbecue sauce, and as such has a million uses in the kitchen. Sacha sauce brings a lot to the table — it's easy to work with, has robust savory notes, and packs a wallop of umami to really elevate the flavor of the dish. It's rich and velvety and nuanced all at once. Most importantly, it's delicious. It's a sauce that will become a staple once you try it, and our recommendation is that you try it.

What is sacha sauce

Sacha sauce is most closely similar to a barbecue sauce that has had the umami level cranked way up. It's primarily made of chilis, ginger, garlic, shallot, and dried seafood paste combined with oil. Many of those ingredients overlap with traditional barbecue sauce recipes, with one outlier being the dried seafood paste. And it's that paste that gives sacha sauce the umami explosion it's known for.

Seafood has naturally high levels of glutamates, the amino acids responsible for the savory taste we recognize as umami. Experiencing umami goes beyond simply tasting it. In an article for Insider, food scientist Pat Polowsky explained, "It induces salivation — even to a greater degree than acid. It literally is mouth-watering."

That's an excellent quality, especially for a sauce, which is why sacha is such a standout in a field of great condiments and marinades. It highlights a dish's natural savory qualities while bringing some of its own, resulting in something truly special.

Sacha sauce is easy to incorporate into your cooking

For all the flavor sacha sauce packs, it's incredibly easy to use in the kitchen. Sacha can sometimes be labeled "satay sauce" when in restaurants and that's one of its common uses. The sauce's origin is unclear, but it is most commonly used on grilled meats, as a condiment for hot pot, and in stir-fries. It doesn't need to be fancy, either. Sacha tastes good served with rice or congee, adding richness to the meal quickly.

It's a natural addition to stir-fries and ramen, but there's no reason to limit yourself there. The umami boost it brings can work in other dishes, too. Add a scoop to your next tomato sauce for extra flavor, or make it a part of your next braise. For more fun, sacha sauce comes in a few varieties, including a hot and spicy version, and one that's vegetarian. But no matter which one you choose, all of them will help amp up your next meal.