While I can speak with confidence about vinaigrettes in European cooking, I have absolutely no authority or background to speak about the dressing in the picture, except that it's been my obsession for the past couple of months. I worry about calling this dressing "Japanese" for fear that it's as Japanese as Russian dressing is Russian. But it was inspired by a salad dressing you often get in Japanese restaurants in the US -- the creamy beige one called "ginger dressing." I couldn't find a recipe for it anywhere, so I kept messing with various ingredients until I came up with something similar. The breakthrough came when I replaced sesame seed oil with toasted sesame seeds. I don't have a sesame seed grinder that I hear every Japanese household owns, but the immersion blender that I use to make this dressing integrates the seeds right in and makes a nice creamy mixture.
For miso, I use the white type (Shiro miso) since that's what I always have in my fridge, but I don't see any harm in using other types. The other parts are variable. For the acidic ingredient, I've used everything from rice wine vinegar, to lemon juice, to lime juice. They were all good. Lime juice might be my favorite. For oil, I use canola since it's neutral in taste (olive oil might be out of place here). Sometimes I add a dash of Shoyu (Japanese style soy sauce). Sometimes a pinch of sugar. You can always taste and adjust to your liking.
You will need some form of blender for this dressing. A food processor won't work. The wonderful thing about an immersion blender is that it can handle small quantities in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup or a container of similar shape. If you plan to use a regular blender, you might need to increase the quantities significantly.
What can you serve this dressing on? I love it on almost any raw vegetable. Some nice combinations that I've done before were
- julienned daikon radish, sectioned oranges, cilantro
- chiffonade (1/8 inch wide ribbons) of baby bok choi, julienned red pepper, carrots and scallions, chopped cashews
- I also like mixing it with cold noodles. For today's lunch, I threw some turnip greens into a pot with noodles during the last 30 seconds of cooking, drained, rinsed with cold water, mixed with the dressing and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Makes about 1/2 cup
1-2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced (depending on how much you like ginger)
2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds (you can buy them already toasted)
2 Tbsp miso paste (I use shiro or white miso)
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or lemon or lime juice)
1/4 cup canola oil
Put all ingredients into a 2 cup glass measuring cup and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust the balance with Shoyu (if you need more salt), sugar, and vinegar (or citrus juice). If the dressing is too strong for your taste, blend in more oil.