Saturday, March 03, 2012

Mysterious Salad Dressings: Everybody Loves Them But How Do You Make Them?

You're in a Japanese restaurant. You are served a nice cucumber salad with wakame seaweed and some delightful gingery brownish salad dressing. What is that and how do you make it?

You're in a natural food (Vegan or vegetarian) restaurant or maybe a Middle Eastern restaurant. You are served a salad dressing that is creamy and delectable and goes perfectly with crudités as well as falafel. What is that and how do you make it?

The answers are here, my friend. And the process is so simply, really, that all you'll need to do is make sure you have the ingredients on hand.
Both of these salad dressings I love so much, I could just drink them. Don't tell, I'm sure this isn't civilized. ("Look—there's that woman who drinks salad dressing.")

Japanese Restaurant Ginger-Soy Salad Dressing
Easy to make, this Japanese salad dressing will surely become a favorite in your family. Even young kids can enjoy it--the same ones who would find raw ginger root too spicy. The rule of thumb for remembering how much to use of each ingredient is 1-2-3 and 1/3.
  • 1 tablespoon ginger juice (grated ginger root that you squeeze the juice out of)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (Nope, other vinegars will not do--rice vinegar rocks this recipe. And it's great to have on hand for everything from sushi to potsticker (gyoza) and shabu-shabu dipping sauce. If you get the seasoned rice vinegar (that has sugar and salt in it), just a splash is good enough for a low-fat salad dressing in a hurry.
  • 1/3 cup of salad oil (Canola, corn oil, whichever you prefer)

Pour the ingredients into a glass jar, cover, and shake. Shake before serving and do not dress the salad until the last second. Store in a glass jar, refrigerate, and enjoy within a week.
  • For a different flava, add in a tablespoon of sesame oil--you'll get a rich, nutty taste
  • Especially great on cucumber, raw sprouts, and fresh mixed lettuces

Middle Eastern Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing
  • 1/3 cup tahini (ground sesame paste, available at Middle Eastern delis and grocery stores as well as health food stores and some supermarkets)
  • 1/4 cup water to thin the tahini
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (strain off the seeds and pulp)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Stir the tahini in its original container to mix the heavy sediment at the bottom with the lighter liquid at the top. Once the tahini is well-mixed, pour it into another container. Stir in the water with the tahini. As you stir, the mixture will at first look thin, and then it will get thicker. Strange to watch, but true. Add in the lemon juice and the cumin, garlic, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly and add salt to taste. Your salad dressing should be creamy but not too thick (like blue cheese salad dressing), and not too thin (like Italian salad dressing). If the consistency is not to your liking, add small amounts of water to adjust. Taste again before serving. You might need more salt or more garlic. No need to shake—tahini salad dressing stays mixed for a good long time. Store in a glass jar, refrigerate, and enjoy within a week.
  • If you make the lemon tahini dressing thick, it can serve as a wonderful dip
  • Simply add this dressing to a blender with garbanzo beans (chick peas), blend, and voila! You have hummus. Now, aren't you smart?


Kevin said...

I have been looking for a good Japanese ginger and soy dressing recipe. I will have to try this one. the tahini dressing sounds interesting as well.

Tumerica said...

You're awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by. I actually got the Japanese dressing from an obscure, old Japanese cookbook--one I bought in Japan in the 1980s. Every recipe is true and authentic, but gems like this are hidden in other recipes. So the author had this one in a recipe for turnips. I wouldn't have known except I saw it and made it for something else and thought, Ah-hah! This is the flavor of Japanese restaurant ginger-soy dressing. Like a revelation to discover this--and how simple it is. Also, the lemon-tahini comes in many variations, but this is our particular fave--not too much garlic--and a little cumin to make it delish. And it instantly converts to hummus. Enjoy!

madamechaya said...

So you have to squeeze the juice from the GInger after you grate it? I usually buy ginger root on occasion. This dressing is right up my alley..

Smooches for the fam..

Cathy K

Carolyn Blount Brodersen said...

Thanks for popping by, Cathy K!