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Feb 20, 2010 02:24 PM

How to crack the Benihana ginger salad dressing recipe?

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: enbell

      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

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

        1. re: frobe

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

      2. is usually pretty good about cracking stuff like this.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TorontoJo

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

        2. 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. 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. 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!