5-Minute Tangy Yum Sauce
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This 5-minute, creamy and tangy yum sauce will add bright gold color and zing to bowls, tacos, grain and bean skillets, or even pasta salad. This is one of my all-time favorite sauces—it’s easy to make and a fan favorite!

A sideways image of a mason jar, which has been filled with an electric gold, creamy sauce.

There are recipes that I make, enjoy for a couple weeks or months, and then retire.

There’s not necessarily something wrong with these recipes; they’re just not memorable enough for me to want to hold onto them.

Then there are recipes that I love so much that they become part of my life for seasons or even years.

This 5-minute, tangy yum sauce is one of them.

It’s not a new recipe. On the contrary, I shared it eight (!) years ago, as part of a grain, green, and bean skillet meal.

An angled photograph of a bowl of whole grains, beans, and greens, which have been dressed with a golden-hued, creamy sauce.

I wasn’t sure whether readers would love its assertive, tangy flavor as much as I did. Indeed, a few people have noted that it has too much much mustard or acid for them.

For the most part, however, readers have loved the sauce as much as I do. It’s probably one of the two or three most popular sauce recipes from this blog, and it’s about time I created a dedicated recipe space for it.

I loved yum sauce the moment I tasted it, but this wasn’t actually in my home kitchen. Let me give you some back story.

A memorable meal at Dobra Tea

The sauce is based off of the signature Yum sauce at a place called Dobra Tea.

I visited Dobra Tea when I was spending a long weekend in Asheville, one of my favorite cities, in the summer of 2016.

An ex-boyfriend and I stopped into Dobra Tea for a quick lunch. I ordered the “Yum bowl,” described thus:

“Jasmine rice, seasoned black beans, steamed kale, sweet potato, cauliflower, red cabbage, avocado, and salsa topped with our signature Yum sauce.”

I figured the Yum sauce would be pretty good, if the restaurant had chosen to make it their “house dressing” of sorts.

But I wasn’t necessarily expecting the sauce to be the star of the whole dish, which it was. I liked my bowl, but it was the sauce that brought life to all of the components.

I was too shy to ask our server what was in this magical sauce, but I could place some of the ingredients: tahini, nutritional yeast, mustard, and vinegar.

The golden, creamy mixture was almost aggressively tangy, which worked well for me, since I love tart flavors.

Then there was the color: that bright yellow hue that almost always announces the presence of a big pinch of turmeric.

The sauce was so good that my ex and I asked for not one, but two extra portions, which we preceded to pour all over our bowls. I knew that I’d try to create my own version when I got home.

Oftentimes a homemade attempt of something I ate in a restaurant turns out to be a total failure; I just can’t capture whatever sleight of hand made the original dish taste wonderful.

In the case of this sauce, however, I had success. My homemade, tangy yum sauce wasn’t an exact replica of what I had at Dobra Tea, but it was close.

Over the years, it has become a keeper. Yum sauce—much like my cashew queso sauce or all-purpose cashew cream—is a homemade condiment that I never get tired of.

I include the sauce in my vegan meal prep all the time, knowing that it’ll liven up whatever dishes I’m planning on making.

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Yum sauce vs Yum Yum Sauce

I’m pausing for a second to clear up some potential confusion: this sauce is totally unrelated to Yum Yum Sauce!

I didn’t know what Yum Yum Sauce was until I returned home from Asheville and tried Googling Yum sauce in an effort to figure out what was in it.

Instead of finding much detail on Yum sauce, I found recipes for Yum Yum Sauce.

Yum Yum Sauce is a Japanese steakhouse sauce. It’s typically made with mayonnaise, paprika, tomato paste or ketchup, and rice vinegar.

This sauce has a creamy texture in common with the Yum sauce at Dobra Tea that inspired my own, but otherwise, they’re pretty different.

Tangy yum sauce ingredients

The ingredients in my yum sauce show up in a lot of my other vegan recipes. I’d wager that many readers have all of them at home already.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the sauce.

Tahini

Tahini is one of my kitchen VIPs. It finds its way into so many tahini dressings, but also into saucy bean dishes, and creamy pasta or noodles.

Tahini is a perfect ingredient for giving this vegan yum sauce its creamy consistency.

If you have a sesame allergy, then you can replace the tahini with raw cashew butter or a third of a cup of soaked raw cashews or pine nuts.

Dijon mustard

Dijon mustard adds some tanginess, acidity, salt, and heat to the dressing. If you don’t have Dijon mustard at home, you can try yellow mustard instead.

Note to those of you who like, but don’t love mustard: it’s completely fine to reduce the amount to one or two teaspoons, instead of a full tablespoon.

Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is usually presented as giving recipes a cheesy flavor, and it can do that. But I don’t think that nooch always ends up tasting cheesy; sometimes it just adds a savory note to dishes.

I wouldn’t say that the nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor to the yum sauce, but it definitely gives it a savory quality—the magic of umami.

Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar

The tangy quality of tangy yum sauce is largely thanks to a mix of freshly squeezed lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

These are the two sources of acid in the sauce, and I think it tastes best when you use both. However, if you’ve run out of one or the other—lemons or apple cider vinegar—you can use whichever of the two you have.

Turmeric

There are vegan egg-like recipes, like tofu scramble or homemade vegan liquid egg, in which I use turmeric mainly for its yellow color.

This is not one of those recipes. I use a whole teaspoon of turmeric in the tangy yum sauce, which means that you’ll taste the spice as well as see it.

What does turmeric taste like? I tend to think of it as being pungent and a little peppery.

In fact, many Ayurvedic recipes and spice blends pair turmeric and black pepper together. The medicinal action here is that piperine in black pepper makes curcumin, which is the active compound in turmeric that may have anti-inflammatory properties, more bioavailable.

This sauce includes a pinch of black pepper, too, which you can adjust to taste.

Is there a substitute for turmeric? Sometimes mild or sweet curry powder is a reasonable substitute. Many spice blends that are labeled as curry powder contain a good amount of turmeric.

For the tangy yum sauce, though, I’d really make a point of using turmeric. The flavor of the spice is bold enough to stand out, yet subtle enough not to overpower the sauce, and it’s the best option.

Salt

Of course, salt is essential to the sauce’s balance and flavor. I suggest a half teaspoon fine salt, but I also strongly recommend tasting the sauce once its blended and adjusting as you like.

Water

Water is the liquid component in the recipe. All of the sauce’s richness and creaminess come from tahini, which means that the recipe is suitable for my readers who choose to avoid or minimize oils in their diets.

I recommend blending the yum sauce as directed, then adding a little extra water at the end to thin it out, if it’s too thick for your liking.

How to make yum sauce

True to the recipe title, the sauce takes about five minutes to make. A blender will do the work for you!

Simply combine all of the ingredients into a blender or a food processor and blend till smooth. It should take a minute or so.

An overhead image of a creamy yellow sauce inside a small, personal sized blender.
Once blended, the yum sauce will have a beautiful gold color.

Add additional water one tablespoon at a time, if you think the sauce is too thick. At this point, it’s ready to serve or to store.

Meal prep & storage

Yum sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. You can also freeze it for up to six weeks.

An overhead image of a mason jar that is filled with a creamy yellow sauce.
Yum sauce can be stored or frozen as part of a weekly meal prep routine.

The many, many uses for yum sauce

Versatility is a big part of why this sauce has remained a favorite for so long.

In spite of being very flavorful—one reader said that it “adds an incredible zing and tang to the to the meal”—the sauce is also, somehow, sort of neutral.

A closeup photograph of rice, chickpeas, kale, and a creamy yellow sauce.

It works with garlicky dishes, like the grain, green, and bean skillet that I originally served it with.

It also plays nicely with sweet flavors. I love using it as an alternative topping for the harvest bowls from Power Plates, which feature sweet roasted root veggies.

A vegan grain bowl has been piled into a round, white ceramic dish.

It’s also a great dipping sauce for sweet potato fries.

Yum sauce is great for kale salads in particular, though I’ve used it on many a salad. It’s an especially fun alternative to the curry dressing that I use for my carrot raisin kale salad.

If you’re a fan of baked, roasted, or smashed potatoes, try smothering them or dipping them in yum sauce.

Speaking of smashed vegetables, it’s also great for drizzling onto my sheet pan smashed broccoli florets.

And as long as we’re on the topic of vegetable sides in the broccoli family, it works beautifully with my steamed broccolini.

There are other, more offbeat ways to use the tangy yum sauce. Recently, I drizzled it all over my sweet potato tacos with black bean spread, and I’d do it again.

If you’re a fan of pasta salad—and we’re coming up on the right season for it—you can try using the yum sauce in place of traditional mayo. The pasta salad takes on a really fun color, and the flavor profile is livelier than any traditional salad.

Yum sauce also makes whole grain salads, especially my farro breakfast salad, 10x better.

Once you start making jars of this stuff, you’ll be surprised at how many foods and meals seem to beg for it.

Here’s the recipe.

A sideways image of a mason jar, which has been filled with an electric gold, creamy sauce.
A sideways image of a mason jar, which has been filled with an electric gold, creamy sauce.
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5-Minute Tangy Yum Sauce

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yields: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (substitute yellow mustard)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender or a food processor fitted with the S blade and blend till smooth. Adjust salt, pepper, and lemon/vinegar to taste. Add an additional tablespoon of water to continue thinning the sauce, if you like. Serve or store.

In speaking a little about meal prep last week and also writing about cooking over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about what sort of “bare minimum” is a useful starting point for a nourishing week of food.

I know for a fact that dressings and sauces can elevate and transform so many other, simple foods. And they’re almost always much tastier than their store-bought counterparts.

Hope that this particular sauce becomes as much of a staple for you as it has for me and, I’m happy to say, others! Enjoy it.

xo

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Categories: Sauces
Method: Blender
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, No Oil, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: 30 Minute or Less, Meal Prep

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