Sushi and Japanese steakhouses are known for having a house salad that is topped with a ginger dressing. The dressing is usually, made fresh in house, at the restaurant. Because the dressing is freshly made, the flavors can vary from restaurant to restaurant.
I am a huge fan of ginger so naturally I am huge fan of ginger dressing. Sometimes I have even be known to dunk my sushi into the dressing (I know weird and against all sushi etiquette but it is honestly really good). I am very particular about my ginger dressing. I like it to have a certain sweet note and I like it to be on the thicker side. I don’t like when the dressing is oily or when you cannot actually see bits of ginger. I like the ginger flavor to be strong and visible.
You can purchase ginger dressing in most grocery stores. Most of the time the dressing is available only in the produce or refrigerated section. Typically refrigerated dressings are the best dressings to get since they have the least amount of preservatives and other added ingredients. However, I have noticed, a lot of these dressings still have ingredients I do not like. Some contain emulsifiers and gums while most contain a good amount of added sugar. I wanted a ginger dressing that was 100% natural and no added sugars. So like with many of my recipes I decided to make my own ginger dressing recipe.
To create my ginger dressing, I researched several different traditional ginger dressing recipes. I wanted to make sure my recipe had the same basic flavor profile. Most of the recipes had great ingredients like onion, ginger, garlic, celery, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Since these ingredients are good ingredients I have kept them in my dressing recipe. I did, however, have to play around with the amount of ginger in the recipe. I found majority of the recipes had too much water and too little ginger. I wanted to make sure my dressing was thick with a good ginger flavor punch so I decreased the amount of water and increased the amount of ginger.
Many of the recipes I found differed in the type of vinegar they used for the ginger dressing. Some used white vinegar and others used apple cider vinegar. I am a big fan of apple cider vinegar (even drink it raw sometimes), however, for this recipe I wanted to stick with Asian inspired flavors, so I went with rice vinegar. Rice vinegar has a distinct flavor and is the vinegar most often used in traditional Asian cooking.
I found that majority of the ginger dressing recipes had some sort of oil in the ingredient line up. At first I was okay with the oil and used it in my first couple test rounds of the ginger dressing. However, the dressing was coming out very watery and thin. I prefer my ginger dressing to be on the thicker side, and I knew the oil was making it too thin so I decided to scrap the oil all together. I know that some will prefer a thinner ginger dressing so I have included oil as an optional ingredient in the recipe.
After tasting so many variations of ginger dressings over the years, I have found that I prefer the dressings with a slightly sweeter note to them. For my ginger dressing recipe I wanted to make sure it had a nice, balanced sweet level, so I decided to add some carrots and a dash of pure Stevia extract. Carrots help by adding a natural sweetness to the dressing, along with giving it a nice, thicker texture. The pure Stevia extract elevates the sweetness by just a touch and is used in place of the sugar that can be found in most ginger dressing recipes. If you are not a fan of Stevia, than cane sugar or coconut sugar can be used in its place.
I have added ponzu sauce as an optional ingredient in my recipe. The ingredient is optional but highly recommended. Ponzu sauce is a traditional Japanese style sauce that is used in a lot of Japanese dishes. Basically Ponzu sauce is soy sauce with extra flavoring notes including a citrus tang and a seafood undertone. Ponzu sauce can be found in most grocery stores or it can be made from scratch at home. I personally love Ponzu sauce, however, the flavor is distinct and some many not want that particular flavor in their dressing so I listed it as an optional ingredient.
The recipe below creates about 1 cup of ginger dressing. The recipe can be doubled to meet your particular needs. The finished dressing should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator.
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon celery, chopped
1 tablespoon carrot, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
A dash of pure stevia extract (or 1 tablespoon cane sugar or coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon water
Optional: 1 teaspoon ponzu sauce
Optional: 4 tablespoons olive oil (for a thinner dressing)
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend on medium speed for about 1 minute or until well combined. Store dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator