You will recognize this carrot-ginger Japanese salad dressing if you’ve ever tasted it on crispy lettuce at a Japanese restaurant. It’s refreshing, it zings and it’s delicious. A homemade version is super easy and way better – and not just for lettuce.
There are many types of Japanese salad dressings – Wafu, Miso, Sesame and Shoya to name a few. This recipe is a carrot-ginger dressing, my favorite. Fresh, vibrant and a nice balance of sweet and tangy.
The recipe is similar to the ones you find in Japanese steakhouses or sushi restaurants – the one we’ve all come to love, although not totally authentic.
I stick to the basic ingredients of carrots, fresh ginger, onion, rice vinegar, sugar and oil. I also add a dash of soy and sesame oil for depth. Some recipes include miso paste and celery as well.
As salad dressings go, this one is on the healthier side. One tablespoon has only 35 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams saturated fat and a lot of vitamin A.
Carrot ginger dressing is typically served over crisp lettuce like iceberg or romaine. But check out the many other good ways to incorporate it.
Ways to use Japanese salad dressing
- on green salads
- on sliced Japanese cucumbers (as pictured) – this is one of my favorite uses – crunchy and gorgeous color combo.
- drizzled on roasted or grilled fish like halibut, tilapia, sea bass or roasted salmon stuffed with herbs
- drizzled over sushi, tofu, vegetable rice paper rolls or Chinese vegetable fried rice
- as a topping for fish/shrimp tacos
- served with fresh snap peas as an appetizer or drizzled on steamed vegetables.
Tailor To Your Taste
Don’t be afraid to play around with the amounts of each ingredient. The dressing is easy to adjust with a little more of this and that.
- vary the sweetness and tartness to your liking by adjusting the rice vinegar and sugar
- add a little sesame oil
- substitute honey for the sugar (same amount)
- add a tablespoon of mild white miso
- don’t forget to add the salt – it brightens up the dressing
- 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. Each cube is 1 teaspoon. Alternatively, use 1 tablespoon (or more) of ginger paste.
- The salad dressing will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge in a sealed container. If it thickens too much, add some water to thin it out.
How to make Japanese salad dressing
Japanese Salad Dressing
- blender or food processor
- 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 or 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sugar or honey
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy (optional)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 5 tbsp (74 ml) neutral oil vegetable, canola
optional add ins
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil (optional) I add this
- 1/4 cup (25g) chopped celery
- 1 tbsp mild miso paste
- Garnish for salad: sesame seeds, green onion, chives
- 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