Darn, I feel like a fool. I spent years (and good money) buying bottles of prepared teriyaki and sukiyaki sauce, when all I needed to do was open my ancient copy of Shizuo Tsuji's "Japanese Cooking: a Simple Art." (1980 edition)
Last week, I made sukiyaki. The sauce was basically equal parts of soy sauce, sake, water, and a bit of sugar. I compared this mixture with some bottled sukiyaki sauce ($5.15) I had on hand, and it was virtually identical. Tonight, I made a salmon terikayi. The sauce was equal parts of soy sauce, sake, mirin, and a bit of sugar. The results tasted better than I've had at a lot of restaurants, and far better than the bottled stuff.
I don't really know why I neglected Tsuji's book for so long: I had used it in decades past, always with excellent results. (I remember making some very good sushi, in the years before sushi bars became as ubiquitous as Starbucks.) Perhaps after 2 decades, the book became part if the furniture; and it was just too easy, living within strolling distance of 3 Japanese groceries, to take the path of least resistance.
In a way, it's like getting back in touch with a dear old friend I've neglected for too long: feeling foolish and wasteful about lost opportunities, but thrilled to be rediscovering what I enjoyed so much in the first place.
Honestly, you may never need another Japanese cookbook. And at under $27 on Amazon for the hardcover edition, it will pay for itself in the cost of sukiyaki sauce alone :)
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