Used as a base for a variety of dressings, sanbaizu is also a vinegared dressing in its own right.

Sanbaizu is a standard sunomono dressing. Sunomono translates as things (mono) of vinegar (su), and is the umbrella term for a range of vinegar-based dishes.

Sanbaizu gets its name from an old way of measuring. Hai, pai, or bai is the Japanese counter suffix for bowls. So one, two and three bowls are, respectively, ippainihai, and sanbai. Based on this, sanbaizu means three bowls of vinegar. Sounds like a pretty straightforward recipe, right?

Actually, when measuring out liquid ingredients for sunomono, people would traditionally use very small sake cups, referred to as bowls. So sanbaizu was originally a vinegar sauce made up of one small sake bowl of each of the typical sunomono ingredients: vinegar, mirin and soy sauce. Over time the recipe ingredients and ratio changed a little, but the name stuck.

Incidentally, nihaizu (or 2 bowls of vinegar) is also a thing, consisting of equal parts of vinegar and soy sauce. Feel free to experiment with these dressings by adding them to some raw veggies for a vinegared salad. Or use sanbaizu for our tosazu recipe, (which in turn, is an ingredient in our kouhaku namasu).

5 from 1 vote


Servings 4
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes


  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp soy sauce


  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Aaaand you’re done.
Course: Basic
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Basic

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