My mom’s uncle was Michio Kushi, the famed macrobiotic guru. She came to Boston in the early 70s to get a taste of America. At the time, my father, who was always restless in Japan due to his eccentric ways, was cooking in his kitchens. For those of you who are unfamiliar with macrobiotics, let me summarize it for you. The macrobiotic diet hails from Zen Buddhist philosophies and believes that you can achieve harmony and balance within the body through the foods that you eat. The emphasis is on eating whole, unprocessed, local, and seasonal foods. All dairy, sugar, and most meats are not allowed. It is a restrictive way of eating that is difficult to follow unless you can dedicate a lot of time to cooking or find a restaurant that specializes in this diet.
And from there came our first restaurant in Coconut Grove, Florida: a Japanese macrobiotic restaurant in 1977. Many decades later, none of our restaurants are macrobiotic, but one recipe still remains. It has spawned numerous copy cat recipes across South Florida restaurants and now I’m about to give it to you. It’s the original Sesame Dressing from Su-Shin Japanese Restaurant which has not changed since it was first made. Sesame Dressing takes just a few minutes to make, and with only 5 ingredients, it is the poster child for clean eating.
What’s in This Dressing?
The funny thing about this Sesame Dressing is that people always call it ginger dressing, even though there is no ginger in it. It is similar to the Carrot Ginger dressings that are popular in American Japanese restaurants, but this version is much more mellow and creamy. It really lets the salad ingredients shine. This is one of the few dressings that does not have vinegar or some kind of acid and can be used to season other steamed veggies, fried foods, and even bowls of rice, which I have seen on hundreds of occasions. Moreover, there are people every day who ask for bowls of it and drink it like soup. I know, pretty extreme, but this is good stuff.
Toasted sesame seeds are a must for this dressing. They impart a really rich, nutty flavor. I am able to easily find toasted sesame seeds at my grocery store, usually near where they sell packaged sushi. You will need a high speed blender to properly pulverize them though. This dressing has a delightfully creamy texture, so we don’t want any grit from partially blended seeds. Do not substitute raw sesame seeds as the flavor is totally different. And unfortunately, tahini cannot be used as a substitute either.
If you cannot find toasted sesame seeds, it is very easy to toast them yourself. Put the sesame seeds in a sturdy frying pan. Then over medium low heat, keep moving them around the pan until you smell a rich toasty aroma and they turn a deep golden color. It will take about 5-7 minutes. Do not rush and crank up the heat as they burn easily.
A Couple More Ingredients
First I roughly chop the carrot and half an onion. Ratios are important in this recipe. Since I don’t want any one ingredient dominating the flavor, I weigh the onion and carrot to make sure I have the right amount. “Half an onion” can vary wildly. Once I have them measured, I throw them into the blender. Then I add the toasted sesame seeds.
Next comes the wet ingredients-the soy sauce, water, and oil. I like to use avocado oil because it has a very neutral flavor, and contains healthy fats.
A good blender should be able to transform those simple ingredients into a rich, creamy, velvety dressing in just a minute or two. Check to make sure all the seeds are thoroughly blended. If you see stragglers, blitz it for another minute.
Then just pour it into a clean jar and refrigerate. It should yield 2 cups. Knowing I have this in the fridge makes me excited to eat salads. Its clean, bright flavors complement any number of seasonal salads and raw veggies. You can even use it to jazz up simply grilled fish or chicken. Use it to change up the flavors of my Wild Mushroom Salad. However you use this Sesame Dressing, I know you will love how easy, delicious, and versatile it is. Once you’ve drizzled it on top of your favorite salad, rate the recipe and leave a comment below, and tag us in your gorgeous photos @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- ½ large onion, 5 ounces
- 3 peeled medium carrot, 4 ounces
- 3 ounces roasted sesame seeds, ¾ cup
- 2 fl ounces soy sauce, 1/4 cup
- 2 fl ounces water, 1/4 cup
- 8 fl oz neutral oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Roughly chop the carrots and onions and place in a blender.
- Add the sesame seeds, soy sauce, water, salt and oil.
- Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth and thick.
- Refrigerate and use within 3 days.
*I highly recommend a scale to weigh ingredients so the proportions are correct and because there are so few ingredients.
*You need to use a high powered blender to get the correct creamy consistency for the dressing.
*This dressing works best with greens and vegetables that have a delicate, neutral, flavor. I would not recommend this for salads with arugula, kale, celery, etc.
*Use this dressing within a couple of days for best flavor.