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Japanese salad dressings

  • t

Over and over again, I have fantastic salad dressings at Japanese restaurants. Some seem spiked with a bit of miso paste, others are very sesame-based. All fantastic.

How to make at home? Are there good brands one can buy at a Japanese market?


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  1. m
    Melanie Wong

    Thi, here's a link to a recipe posted on the SF Bay Area board.

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1. d
      Dave Feldman

      Don't you think rice vinegar gives many Japanese dressings their lightness, their lilt?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Dave Feldman
        Melanie Wong

        Yes, definitely. When I'm in the mood for something really light, I'll splash rice vinegar on bouncy salad greens sans oil, salt or pepper. It's delicious.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Me, too. I keep a bottle of rice vinegar in my office drawer to dress up the salad bar goodies I eat at my desk. (And a tiny bottle of balsamic for when I'm feeling more adventurous).
          Hmmm....I feel a new thread coming on...
          "What food do you keep in your office desk drawer?"

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Caitlin McGrath

            I do the same thing. Never kept it my desk, but I did have a bottle I'd take with me to the dorm dining hall in college for salads and veggies. And we eat cucumber slices in seasoned rice vinegar all the time with Asian-ish meals. I also splash rice vinegar on a dish of bok choy, cover with plastic wrap, and steam for a few minutes in the microwave.

          2. re: Dave Feldman

            I agree, the acidity of rice vinegar is around 4.3% while white wine and balsamics are about 6%. Maybe that's also why honey works well with european vinegars?

          3. What about the orange-colored ginger dressing that sort of solidifies on top of the greens. I love that dressing! Anyone have a recipe?

            1. Here are recipes for some favorite Japanese steakhouse (like Benihana) sauces and dressings:

              Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Dipping Sauce

              1/4 cup chopped onion
              1 small piece ginger root
              1/2 cup soy sauce
              1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

              Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

              This recipe yields about 1 cup of sauce.


              Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Salad Dressing

              1/2 cup minced onion
              1/2 cup peanut oil
              1/3 cup rice vinegar
              2 tablespoons water
              2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
              2 tablespoons minced celery
              2 tablespoons ketchup
              4 teaspoons soy sauce
              2 teaspoons sugar
              2 teaspoons lemon juice
              1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
              1/2 teaspoon salt
              1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

              Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all of the ginger is well-pureed.

              This recipe yields 1 3/4 cups.


              Japanese Steakhouse Mustard Sauce

              1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, crushed
              3 tablespoons dry mustard
              2 tablespoons hot water
              3/4 cup soy sauce
              1/4 garlic clove, crushed
              3 tablespoons heavy cream, whipped

              Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sesame seeds in flat pan in oven to toast (about 10 to 15 minutes). Mix mustard and water in a small mixing bowl until it forms a paste. Place in blender with sesame seeds, soy sauce and garlic. Blend at high speed for about 1 minute. Remove and stir in whipped cream.

              Here are some Miso dressings:

              Ginger-Miso Dressing

              2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
              2 tablespoons yellow miso (soybean paste)
              1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
              1 tablespoon vegetable oil
              1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
              1/2 teaspoon sugar
              1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

              Combine all ingredients.

              Orange-Miso Dressing

              3 tablespoons red miso
              2 tablespoons boiling water
              1/3 cup fresh orange juice
              2 tablespoons sugar
              3 tablespoons rice vinegar
              3 tablespoons canola oil
              1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
              2 (1/4" thick) slices fresh ginger, crushed
              1 medium garlic clove, crushed

              In small bowl, combine miso and boiling water; stir until smooth. Place in blender or food processor.

              Add all remaining ingredients; process until blended. Stir or shake before using.


              Wasabi Miso Dressing

              1 tablespoon miso paste
              1/4 cup sake, or dry white wine
              1 teaspoon sugar
              3/4 teaspoon wasabi powder
              2 cloves garlic, finely minced
              1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
              1/2 cup water

              Combine all ingredients.



              1. I use this recipe. It's very easy and I get a lot of compliments on it. It's from Gourmet magazine.

                MISO VINAIGRETTE

                In addition to dressing greens, this is especially good drizzled over sliced avocado.
                Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

                2 tablespoons red miso (fermented bean paste)
                2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
                1 tablespoon water
                1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
                1/4 cup vegetable oil
                1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
                1 scallion, minced

                In a bowl mash together miso and mustard and whisk in water and lemon juice. Add oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk vinaigrette until emulsified. Whisk in gingerroot and scallion.

                Makes about 1/2 cup.

                1. I agree that Japanese restaurant salad dressing has a unique quality that's unlike other dressings. In my experience, the "secret" ingredient is finely grated carrot. That's what adds the sweetness and orangeness.

                  Though I've not written it down before, my recipe is something like:

                  rice wine vinegar
                  dash of lemon, tiny amount of lemon zest
                  tinch of miso (usually brown)
                  dash of soy sauce
                  finely grated carrot
                  finely grated ginger
                  vegetable oil
                  salt to taste
                  pinch of toasted white sesame seeds

                  I think that's it. I would not put scallions, black pepper, or Dijon mustard in, though I might put scallions in the salad.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lucia

                    When I was living in San Diego, I fell madly in love with a whole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant called Ichiban. The first one was on University Boulevard but they opened up a second one in Pacific Beach. To this day, there is a line that starts out front of these tiny counter-joints. The November 1994 issue of Gourmet actually reviewed my little hideaway and supplied the recipe to their fabulous dressing, that I still use to this day:

                    3 tablespoons minced carrot
                    3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh gingerroot
                    2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon (with some rind)
                    1 medium onion, chopped (about one cup)
                    3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
                    3/4 cup water
                    1/2 cup soy sauce
                    3/4 cup vegetable oil
                    2 tablespoons ketchup
                    1/8 teaspoon salt (more, less, or none, depending on how salty the soy sauce is)
                    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

                    Combine all ingredients in a blender, on high, for at least 2 minutes...

                    1. re: Renee

                      How long does this dressing last in the fridge? And what do you put it on? Just greens or other stuff too?

                    2. re: lucia

                      I had Japanese and Korean roommates in college and they got together to copy the dressing at New York's Dojo restaurant (a college budget standard). They did use the carrot, but from looking at your recipe, they (and I) add GARLIC and MAYONAISSE. I find some New York Japanese restaurants just water down some mayo with water and/or rice vinegar and pour it over a few leaves of iceberg with a couple of carrot shavings. I prefer the carrot/ginger one. Health food stores and delis here sell it bottled, but I have yet to try it. I love it so much, I used to eat it like soup.

                      1. re: cypressstylepie

                        I remember Dojo! Just reading that I could almost taste this old Dojo flavor that I can't put my finger on. Maybe their "special sauce"?

                    3. I have been trying for years to duplicate a Japanese dressing used on not only greens but cold pasta. It was incredible. It was served at a Japanese restaurant on Kearny St between Sutter and Bush. Used to eat there 2-3 times a week, and was getting friendly enough to ask the owner for his secret. Alas, the owner was killed by the bus boy (I heard) and the place closed. I suppose the dressing died with him. It was like a Russian dressing without the relish, and close to a red French dressing. Some elusive, subtle flavors that I have not found. Creamy dressings are very hard to duplicate...so many variants
                      to deal with. Any ideas???