What Is Yum Yum Sauce? It’s More Than Just Spicy Mayo

The world is divided into yum yum and yuck yuck. It’s one of the reasons my therapist and waiters say that people don’t like hanging around me. But, there’s actually a sauce called yum yum sauce! What is Yum Yum Sauce? Is it just spicy mayo? Let’s airfry some shrimp and get some answers.

What is yum yum sauce? 

Yum yum sauce is that creamy, pinkish, yellowish, orangish sauce that is served at teppanyaki-style Japanese steakhouses. You know when you go to a hibachi grill like Benihana’s and, before the onion volcano and shrimp tossing shenanigans, they put two sauces in front of you: one dark reddish-brownish ginger sauce and the other one? Yum yum sauce. 

Who invented yum yum sauce?

Recipes differ slightly and it goes by a few names: Shrimp sauce, Japanese white sauce, yum yum sauce (or bang bang sauce or boom boom sauce if it’s spicy). But the tangy, creamy sauce is basically the same. The name “yum yum sauce” seems to be the most universal thanks to Terry Ho. Terry Ho owned a chain of Chinese restaurants and hibachi grills throughout the South. In 2012, he bottled the yum yum sauce from his grills and began selling it in grocery stores as Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce. That is still the most available yum yum sauce on the market today. So in a way, Terry Ho invented yum yum sauce.

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What is in yum yum sauce? 

Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce lists it’s ingredients as: soybean oil, water, sugar, corn syrup, egg yolks, distilled vinegar, salt, mustard seed, dehydrated garlic, hot sauce, tomato paste, paprika, natural and artificial flavor, preservatives, propylene glycol alginate, calcium disodium EDTA, polysorbate 80, white pepper, and spice. Need that translated to household ingredients? One homemade recipe calls for mayo, water, tomato paste, garlic powder, sugar, paprika, and cayenne pepper. 

So, is yum yum sauce spicy mayo?

Kind of. It is a mayo-based sauce but spicy mayo is usually just mayo and sriracha. Yum yum sauce includes more spices and flavorings. 

Is yum yum sauce gluten free?

Yum yum sauce is usually gluten free. Terry Ho’s Original Yum Yum Sauce advertises itself as gluten free, but recipes differ so always check labels, recipes, and restaurants to be sure or if you need to know if it was prepared in a gluten free environment. 

Does yum yum sauce have dairy?

Yum yum sauce does not contain dairy—usually. Some recipes and store brands will include butter, so check the label.

Okay, now that I know all this, I am good to go to my nearest hibachi grill, chug a gallon of yum yum sauce, and say, “yum yum!”

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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