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How to crack the Benihana ginger salad dressing recipe?

frobe Feb 20, 2010 02:24 PM

I've been trying for a while now to duplicate Benihana's ginger salad dressing and it just doesn't seem right. The recipe I've been working from is this one:


and whereas it's close, when I purchase some dressing from Benihana and compare the two side by side, there are very noticable differences but I just can't seem to put solve them.

For example, I find the actual Benihana dressing a bit thinner and lighter, a bit saltier and a less tart than the recipe. So, I tried adding a bit more water, reducing the amount of ketchup and sugar, reducing the lemon juice, etc. Still not right. Also, if this is perhaps a helpful clue, when I leave Benihana dressing in the fridge overnight, the next day it stays very thin and pourable but mine seems to thicken up to the point that it falls out of the jar rather than pours. What ingredient would do this? Have also tried reducing the onion, playing with the amount of ginger, soy, etc. but still not the same. Somehow, all of the Benihana ingredients seem to come together perfectly but I feel like I can sort of taste each individual ingredient in my concoction.

I found another recipe on the internet that claims to be the real one and uses tomato paste rather than ketchup and although I haven't tried that yet, I did take the opportunity to question the guy at Benihana the other day who confirmed that they use ketchup. However, when I pushed him a bit more he said that the kitchen has some secret ingredients and that even he has been unable to duplicate the recipe at home.

Any ideas on cracking this?


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  1. enbell RE: frobe Feb 20, 2010 02:33 PM

    pretty much the same ingredients, but different proportions - good luck

    3 Replies
    1. re: enbell
      frobe RE: enbell Feb 20, 2010 03:24 PM

      Thanks enbell. I'll give this one a try but I see this one uses tomato paste rather than ketchup. The Benihana guy told me for sure that they use ketchup.

      1. re: frobe
        enbell RE: frobe Feb 20, 2010 04:09 PM

        I'm sure you're on to something. I just thought that since this site says it came from binihana.com it might be worth a try :)

        1. re: frobe
          LaLa RE: frobe Sep 5, 2010 04:08 PM

          of course I have found ketchups vary with taste.....some are much saltier and thicker.

      2. TorontoJo RE: frobe Feb 20, 2010 03:07 PM

        RecipeSecrets.com is usually pretty good about cracking stuff like this.


        1 Reply
        1. re: TorontoJo
          frobe RE: TorontoJo Feb 20, 2010 03:24 PM

          Appreciate it Torontojo but the recipe you linked to is exactly the same as the one I've been using.

        2. goodhealthgourmet RE: frobe Feb 20, 2010 04:17 PM

          i've only been to Benihana once or twice, and it was years ago, but i'd be willing to bet there should be miso in there, and it's not listed in that recipe - that would account for the saltiness you're missing. you can try adding more water to thin yours out a bit, which will also help mellow the tartness somewhat, but i suspect the key to the texture of the Benihana formula is xanthan gum, which is typically added to commercial salad dressing to stabilize the emulsion.

          1. m
            mcalil RE: frobe Feb 26, 2010 09:11 AM

            Recipesecrets.com comes pretty close, but the ginger texture and flavor wasn't right. This was my second try. Next time I will try grating the ginger instead of mincing.

            1. chef chicklet RE: frobe Feb 26, 2010 01:15 PM

              I can remember back in the day trying to crack that and the mustard sauce recipes. I asked one of the waiters about the ginger saunce and he said it was onions. They chopped onions up very fine and then cooked them with fresh ginger root and garlic. Of course I don't have the exact recipe but it makes sense that the base was onion. The ginger root also chopped fine, and then added a little at a time. The rest of the ingredients in the list seem reasonable. I'd go easy on the lemon, an rice vinegar. Omit the salt and pepper. If you recall the stuff is darkish, so you'd most certainly have to cook the onions to caramelize them and get the right texture. The ginger root gives it the little bit of heat, and the soy flavors it too. The rice vinegar is the only addition that I might wonder about.
              Thinking about it again, there might be dry sherry in this sauce.
              So glad that you brought this up, I love cracking recipes!

              1. n
                nsingapu RE: frobe Sep 5, 2010 02:18 PM

                Frobe, Benihana used to offer a number of their recipes online including their salad dressing.

                5 Replies
                1. re: nsingapu
                  frobe RE: nsingapu Sep 5, 2010 03:20 PM

                  wow, thanks for that nsingapu. Always go straight to the source!

                  1. re: frobe
                    Quine RE: frobe Sep 5, 2010 03:34 PM

                    I checked out this thread :

                    carrot seems to be a major ingredient.

                  2. re: nsingapu
                    Quine RE: nsingapu Sep 5, 2010 03:28 PM

                    Weird, checked out that recipe and doesn't even have any tomato product in it. Makes me think they did one of those _leave an ingredient out_ so it will not be right scams.

                    1. re: Quine
                      frobe RE: Quine Sep 6, 2010 09:04 AM

                      You may be looking at the Ginger sauce recipe. The salad dressing link lists tomato paste as an ingredient.

                    2. re: nsingapu
                      goodhealthgourmet RE: nsingapu Sep 5, 2010 08:03 PM

                      if you read the "Recipe Disclaimer" on that page, it says the recipes are NOT the same ones they use in the restaurant.

                    3. a
                      AnyaTika RE: frobe Sep 6, 2010 11:49 AM

                      Buy a bottle of Makato at your local grocer. I keep a bottle at home and work.

                      1. u
                        uleeskitchen RE: frobe Apr 8, 2014 07:00 PM

                        ok... now you done it.... I will have to try this recipe tonight. I had the owner of a local Japanese give me the recipe years ago, ... her salads would be the only ones I got my children to eat (they are in their late 20' now)
                        She told me they take all the left over carrots, onions and ginger the food preps produced. and basically all the same ingredients everyone already mentioned. she boils the carrots, onions and ginger in a very light sea salt water mixture until they are slightly soft, they cools and pours the remaining water out. Then refrigerates the remaining cooked vegetables until the evening, I assume the preps do their chores in the am. Now here is the difference from all other recipes; she uses the refrigerated, cooked veggies and make that the base of her dressing. Then she take a small amount of carrots, onions and ginger put those into a blender, then ad’s the base of her dressing and lets it sit overnight.
                        It is the best and closest I ever gotten to the Benihana real deal. Nowhere and at no time did she ever mentioned ketchup. If you like it sweeter, add a drop or two of mirin, for more salt, ad a single drop of fish sauce.... sorry I do not have the exact measurements of all the ingredient, I tried it twice and got it perfect. you just need to proportion the ratio, and then taste, adjust, taste. then let another person taste, adjust if necessary, just don’t be a fool and don’t records your steps and measurements, as I did.... if I could remember it all, I would have not ended up here .... best of luck, let me know how it turns out.

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