Taste of Home: Barbecue Sauce in Japan

I love Japanese food, but every once in a while, I miss some of the tastes of home. It can be challenging to get some of the right ingredients without nearly bankrupting myself at the import store, so whenever possible, I try to find replacements at the local grocery stores. If I find any particularly good recipes, I’ll share them on here in the Taste of Home articles. This recipe is for a barbecue sauce that we used to make barbecue chicken pizza, though it could be used for just about anything.

Make Your Own Pizza

Pizza in Japan is a weird animal. First, it’s ridiculously expensive. Second, mayo and corn? really? The best way to get a good pizza here is to make it yourself.

When I was growing up, there was a local pizza shop that sold a barbecue chicken pizza. I never found anything quite so good after I left my hometown. Even California Pizza Kitchen’s version was a pale comparison. So, I decided to do what I do whenever restaurants disappoint me: I’d make it myself. I made my own pizza dough (using our new Gopan bread machine) and Sawa prepared all the toppings, but the real secret was in the sauce. Here’s the recipe we created, in case anyone else in Japan is looking for a good barbecue sauce. We bought all the ingredients at the local grocery store.

I recommend doubling the recipe to have enough to cover two pizza crusts and leftover for cooking. It can keep sealed in a refrigerator for about 2 weeks. (So sayeth the cookbook with the recipe that we loosely based this on).


  • 1 chicken breast (about 300g) cut into 1cm x 3cm strips
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 200 mL vinegar
  • 50 mL c Worchestershire (Usta) sauce
  • 50 mL c soy sauce
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly chopped ginger root
  • 2 cloves freshly chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Note: A Japanese cup is only 200 mL as opposed to 240 for an American cup. Depending on what country you bought your measuring cups in, this could really screw up some recipes. It’s also a convenient excuse to cover for user error.


  1. In a 2L saucepan, sautee the chicken breast in 1 Tablespoon of the oil over high heat until the outside is just white.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the canned tomato then the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining olive oil.
  3. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by about half, or thick enough to spread on pizza crust, about 30 minutes. *Time may vary depending on how watery your tomatoes are. If you’re not making this sauce for pizza and don’t need it particularly thick, then 5-10 minutes will do.
  4. After about 20 minutes, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Recommended Pizza Toppings

Besides the chicken, used the toppings below (sautéed in order, to make the most of the juices).

  • Sautéed Onion and Maitake Mushrooms together in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Sautéed sliced Japanese eggplant (let drain on a paper towel after removing); add oil as necessary
  • Raw Japanese green pepper (piman)
  • That shredded stuff that passes for “cheese” in Japanese supermarkets.

Bake on a cookie sheet (or a pizza stone if you’re lucky enough to have one) for about 12-13 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly/brown, and eat it before everyone else does. Ours disappeared before we could even get the camera out. I’ll add a picture next time we make it. It should be pretty soon.

My next project: finally discover the balance between pastry flour and bread flour necessary to achieve a rough equivalent to the all purpose flour that does not seem to exist in Japan. Use said flour to conquer Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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