Sunday, October 2, 2011

3 Japanese Dressings

My trips to Japan weren't all work and play. There was plenty of time to meditate on dining while touring around. The western influence in Japan is evident, but there is never any mistaking where you are. Great attention and respect are given to the food preparation in appearance and taste. When the Japanese prepare western foods, there is always a trace of the hand that makes it. There is a certain je ne sais quoi. And so, these dressings have that same quality. They came by me from a book I got in London, Simple Japanese, and I have loosely adapted a few recipes. All of the dressings are comfortable on just beds of greens, or whatever combination suits you. I used the Japanese Creamy Dill Dressing to top an heirloom tomato salad that was fresh from my Massachusetts garden, dill and all. It is also perfect with grilled or poached fish.The Miso Dressing sat beside varieties of grilled baby eggplant and peppers that I got at the farmers market in Boise, Idaho while I was visiting my son. I have bought a version of this dressing for years not really knowing how to make it, but wanting to. The sesame flavor compliments beef, chicken or pork when used in a salad. One evening I quickly made a salad of leftover grilled chicken, sliced peaches ripe from the tree and toasted pecans. The Japanese Vinaigrette blended with the fruit and chicken so well, that I wondered how I had never known this fusion of flavors. One of the ingredients is yuzu juice, a citrus juice that tastes like a medley of lemon and grapefruit with a hint of orange. My daughter, who lives in Korea, uses it in her cooking. I bought a bottle in Japan and it is available here, as well.

These are all easily made in advance, keep well and will make your salads as satisfying as a walk through a Japanese garden....well, almost.

Japanese Creamy Dill Dressing

1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
6 ounces creme fraiche
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all of the chopped dill, crème fraîche, lemon juice, wasabi paste and sugar together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Keeps 3 days refrigerated.

Miso Dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons white miso paste
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
3 teaspoons good quality toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoon olive oil

Put shallot and garlic into a small food processor with the miso, lemon juice, mustard, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Blend to combine.

Mix together the peanut oil, olive oil and canola oil in a bowl. Gradually add the oil mixture to the miso mixture and blend until emulsified and the consistency of a thick vinaigrette. You may not need all of the oil, or you may need more, just check the consistency and see.

Keeps 1 week refrigerated.

Japanese Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons yuzu juice*
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil
*can substitute 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice and 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice to equal 2 tablespoons yuzu juice.

Combine the yuzu juice, vinegar,wasabi and sweet chili sauce in a small food processor and blend until smooth.

Mix the canola oil and olive oil in a bowl. Add to the wasabi mixture while the machine is running and mix until it has the consistency of a vinaigrette.

Keeps 2 weeks refrigerated.

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