turning japanese

growing up, i always thought i hated salad. not because veggies were icky, but because i never understood the use of coating lettuce in mayonaise, oil, or ketchup. when you go to a ny/nj area diner and ask their selection of dressings, most likely it will read: italian, bleu cheese, thousand island, ranch, ceasar. sometimes there’s the odd vinaigrette, which is usually a fruit puree and vinegar, over-diluted with an excessive amount of heavy oil. don’t get me wrong– i wasn’t particularly health conscious, i just never understood the appeal.

after ignoring the notion of salad for eighteen years, one day my husband insisted on taking me to a japanese steakhouse– you know, the kind where they give you so much food most people are full by the time the entrees arrive. he convinced me to at least taste the salad dressing and to my utter surprise, it was delicious. from that day on, i had a salad (or two) everyday, be it at a japanese place or at home, as we experimented with every ginger dressing the grocery store had to offer. when we moved up to toronto, we were distraught to find that our brand of choice wasn’t imported here. even the dressings at the japanese places usually aren’t very good. somehow, the appeal of mayo has made its way into japanese dressing recipes. so for the past year, i’ve been working on making the perfect carrot ginger dressing at home.

last week, i finally achieved my goal. i made a dressing so good that DH asked for seconds– something that hasn’t happened in over a year. i immediately made a double batch and stored it safely in a glass jar in the fridge. the recipe is derived from a bunch of online recipes and a lot of trial and error. mostly error. but totally worth it. if you’re looking for the perfect homemade carrot ginger japanese salad dressing, here it is:

japanese ginger dressingRestaurant-Style Japanese Carrot Ginger Dressing
makes 2 cups, enough for about 10 salads

1 c carrot

1 T ginger root (i prefer using the ginger that comes pre-ground in a tube, if you can find that at your local grocery store or asian market)

1/4 c chopped white onion

2 t minced garlic

1/2 c rice vinegar

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 t sesame oil

2 T soy sauce

1/4 t white sugar

1 pinch salt

blend carrots in a food processor. add all other ingredients and blend together until homogenized, about 20-30 seconds (on my processor at least). taste dressing and adjust to your own taste– to mellow out the flavour, add a bit more carrot. to make it sweeter, add another pinch of sugar. to  make it more pungent, add more vinegar. the dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or so.

japanese ginger dressing



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