The other week we went shopping at a large Japanese superstore (and the largest Japanese supermarket in the U.S.), Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey.
Strolling up and down the aisles, we wandered into the salad dressing area and found ourselves hungering for a big salad with ginger-miso dressing—the type of dressing, often orange in color, served on green salads at most Japanese restaurants.
We purchased three different brands, chopped up a big salad for dinner and tossed it with dressing. OMG: Is every prepared consumer food product sold in America drowning in sugar? Would the same brand sold in Japan be this sweet?
(Indeed, manufacturers alter their recipes to suit the tastes of different nationalities. For example, the original Dutch Heineken beer is much heartier than the watered-down product sold in the U.S.)
At $4.59 for a 12-ounce bottle, we were, to say the least, disappointed.
Freshly chopped and waiting for ginger miso dressing. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.
We rarely purchase salad dressing because it’s so easy to make, and the price is very high given the low cost of a bit of oil, vinegar and seasonings. If we buy a bottle, it should taste great!
We knew we could do better than these overly sweet bottles. The next day, mixed our own, using it to top a dinner of grilled chicken on greens.
The recipe that follows took us 5 minutes (just toss all ingredients into the food processor); and the ingredients cost pennies, not dollars.
GINGER MISO DRESSING RECIPE
This recipe makes 3/4 cup dressing, enough for salad for four. Feel free to double it and refrigerate the extra dressing—for your next salad, as a dip with raw vegetables or a sauce for grilled chicken, seafood or vegetables.
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil (you can substitute grapeseed or olive oil)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon miso paste (white or red)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove or 2 small cloves
Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
TIP: Substitute 1 teaspoon of sesame oil for 1 teaspoon of the canola oil. If you like it, add more next time. Sesame oil has a strong flavor, so add a bit at a time.
This award-winning salad dressing is $5.49
for 10 ounces. You can make a version of it
for 50 cents. Photo courtesy
1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until creamy.
2. USE immediately or refrigerate.
CHOOSING A SALAD OIL
When choosing oil for any culinary use, head to the monounsaturated fats, the “heart-healthy” oils.
Canola oil and olive oil, two popular cooking oils, are low in unhealthy saturated fat and not-so-healthy polyunsaturated fat, and high in healthy monounsaturated fat.
Scientists believe that monounsaturated fats help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) that can clog arteries, leading to heart disease or stroke, while increasing the level of good cholesterol (HDL) that removes cholesterol buildup from the arteries. Integrate more of them, as well as the other oils listed above, into your diet.
Examples of heart-healthy oils and their percentages of monounsaturated fat: Almond oil (66%), avocado oil (74%), canola oil (62%), macadamia oil (84%), olive oil (73%—whether refined [regular], virgin or extra virgin), sunflower oil (high oleic version, 82%), tea seed oil (60%).
HERE’S MORE ON GOOD FATS VS. BAD FATS.
What about corn oil and vegetable oil?
While all oils are a combination of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, a heart-healthy oil has a preponderance of monounsaturated oils.
In contrast, corn oil, vegetable oil *and other popular cooking oils are largely polyusaturated oils, where the preponderance of the fat is not monounsaturated: corn oil 62%, grape seed oil 71%; safflower oil 77%; sunflower oil (linolenic—69%).
SEE OUR CULINARY OILS GLOSSARY FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKING & SALAD OILS.
*Vegetable oil can be a blend of oils, e.g. corn, soybean and sunflower, or it may be only one type of oil. There is no requirement for the label to list the type(s) of oil in the bottle. Generally, “vegetable oil” is refined to have a high smoke point but very little taste or aroma. This makes it a good all-purpose oil for baking, frying and sautéeing. However, it is not of sufficient quality to be used as a condiment oil or for salad dressings.