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Japanese Ginger Dressing With Carrots (5 Minutes)

Add a wonderful fresh zing to salads, veggies, and more with a delicious not-quite-authentic 5-minute version of this Japanese ginger dressing.

You will recognize the flavor profile if you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting it on crispy iceberg lettuce at Japanese restaurants. This homemade dressing is super easy and customizable.

Japanese ginger salad dressing in jar on wood table.

We amp up the typical ingredients in a ginger dressing – fresh ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar – with carrots and onion for added sweetness, texture, nutrition, and flavor.

There are many types of Japanese salad dressings such as Wafu, Miso, Sesame, and Shoya. This Japanese-style carrot-ginger dressing is a twist on Wafu. A perfect way to serve fresh, vibrant flavors in your side salad with a nice balance of sweet and tangy. 

Try experimenting with different amounts of each ingredient until you find the perfect balance of flavors. The dressing is easy to adjust with a little more of this and that. 

As salad dressings go, this Japanese ginger salad dressing is on the healthier side. One tablespoon has only 35 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of saturated fat, and a lot of vitamin A. 

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

fresh ginger, carrots, rice vinegar, sugar soy sauce, oil, salt, onion.

Basic dressing ingredients: fresh ginger, onion, carrots, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce (optional), and oil. This recipe is vegan-friendly.

  • Ginger: Fresh ginger has a lot more punch, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium but you can substitute it with ground ginger if needed. Or see ginger shortcuts below.
  • Vegetable oil: Use any type of neutral-tasting oil like canola oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, or olive oil (not extra virgin).
  • Salt: I don’t suggest leaving out the salt. Salt livens up the flavors in the dressing. For more info, check out best salt for cooking (and what you should know)
  • White sugar: Substitute honey or brown sugar if you prefer (use the same amount)
  • Rice vinegar: if you don’t have any, use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

Variations

Add-ins: Try adding a dash of sesame oil for depth. Not too much though – you don’t want to overpower the dressing. Some recipes also include a tablespoon of mild white miso paste and celery. And you can add some heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Sweet-tart balance: Vary the sweetness and tartness to your liking by adjusting the rice vinegar and sugar.

Gluten-free version: This dressing can easily be made gluten-free if you use a gluten-free soy sauce substitute such as Tamari. Alternatively, just leave out the soy sauce.

Step by step instructions

The short version: peel, roughly chop, blend, done!

chopped carrots, peeled ginger, chopped onion on cutting board.
Peel and roughly chop carrots, onions, and ginger.
japanese ginger salad dressing in processor bowl.
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed.
Japanese ginger salad dressing drizzled on sliced cucumbers.
Serve on sliced Japanese cucumbers drizzled with dressing, salads, or other foods.

Ways to use Japanese salad dressing

Japanese salad dressing is typically served over crisp lettuce like iceberg or romaine. But it’s also terrific on:

Recipe FAQs

Is ginger root healthier than ginger powder?

According to a John Hopkins expert on ginger benefits, “both forms [ginger root and ginger powder] contain all the health benefits of ginger. Though it’s hard to beat the flavor of the fresh root, ginger powder is nutritious, convenient and economical”. Health benefits include efficient digestion, nausea relief, and reduced gas and bloating.

Can I use dried ground ginger instead of fresh ginger?

Yes, you can use dried ginger instead of fresh ginger, but the flavor won’t be as fresh and vibrant. Approximately 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Is rice wine vinegar the same as rice vinegar?

No, rice wine vinegar is not the same as rice vinegar. Rice wine vinegar is made from fermented rice wine, while rice vinegar is made from fermented rice.

How much salad dressing do I need per person?

The amount of dressing on a salad will depend on how much salad you are serving. A good rule of thumb is about 2 tablespoons of salad dressing per serving. Some people eat a lot more though! I tend to follow that rule and serve extra on the side for those who want it.

Ginger Shortcuts

If you don’t have fresh ginger (or don’t feel like peeling and chopping), the best substitute is frozen cubes of minced ginger sold in little packages. Brilliant invention! Each cube is 1 teaspoon.

Alternatively, use 1 tablespoon (or more) of ginger paste or 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder.

Make Ahead

The salad dressing will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge in a sealed airtight container. If it thickens too much, add a splash of water to thin it out. 

Japanese ginger salad dressing drizzled on sliced cucumbers garnished with sesame seeds and green onions.
Garnish with ground nuts or sesame seeds and chopped chives if you like.

Other easy salad dressings

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

Japanese ginger salad dressing in jar on wood table.
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Japanese Ginger Dressing With Carrots (5 Minutes)

Add a wonderful fresh zing to salads, veggies, and more with a delicious not-quite-authentic 5-minute version of this Japanese ginger dressing.
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Condiment, salad dressing
Cuisine: Japanese
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 10 (2 tbsp per serving)
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped about 5 oz/140g
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped about 1/4 cup or 2 oz
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root (or more to taste), peeled and chopped, Note 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar or honey or brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, Note 2
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (74 ml) neutral oil canola, peanut, neutral olive oil

optional add ins

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (optional) I add this
  • 1/4 cup (25g) chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon mild white miso paste
  • Garnish for salad: sesame seeds, green onion, chives

Instructions

  • MAKE DRESSING: Place all ingredients in food processor or blender. Blend for about 2 minutes or until pureed, scraping down sides of bowl in between if necessary. Taste and adjust to how you like it – e.g. more vinegar, sugar, sesame oil salt, ginger, etc. If you like it thinner, add a tablespoon of water.
    Yield – approximately 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) or 20 tablespoons

Recipe Notes

  1. Ginger substitutes: Fresh ginger has a lot more punch, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium but you can substitute it with a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon ground (or to taste) ginger if needed. Or use the same equivalent of frozen ginger cubes or ginger paste. 
  2. Rice vinegar substitutes: if you don’t have any, use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Note that rice vinegar is not the same as rice wine vinegar. 
  3. Variations: 
    • Add-ins: Try adding a dash of sesame oil for depth (not too much), a tablespoon of mild white miso paste and a few tablespoons chopped celery. And you can add some heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes
    • Gluten-free version: This dressing can easily be made gluten-free if you use a gluten-free soy sauce substitute such as Tamari. Alternatively, just leave out the soy sauce.
  4. Make Ahead: Transfer salad dressing to a sealed container. Keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. Shake well before using. If it thickens up in the fridge, add a splash of water or oil, then shake. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates and do not include optional add ins. They are based on a 2 tablespoon serving which is typical for salad dressing (although restaurants serve more than this). For a simple cucumber salad, I find 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp per serving of dressing is sufficient. 

Nutrition

Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1019IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg
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