Thursday, September 20, 2007

Miso Dressing

During my senior year of college, I was introduced to the joys of homemade miso soup by a Japanese roommate. She would add a cup of just-boiled water or dashi to a heaping tablespoon of moist, soft miso, and voila! you have a fast, tasty soup. If you've got either on hand, a bit of cubed tofu and small slices of kombu are nice additions. Either way, it tastes just like the miso soup you'd get at a Japanese restaurant.

While I love simple oil-and-vinegar salad dressings, most bottled dressings are too sweet for me. When I discovered this dressing and played with the recipe a bit, I hit upon the perfect balance of flavours, and L and I were hooked. The salty acidity is a perfect foil for salad vegetables, which are often sweet enough on their own.

We keep a container of miso and a jar of this dressing in our fridge at all times. Dinner guests seem to love it, and it encourages impromptu snacking on salads (rather than my beloved potatoes, which apparently aren't nearly as healthy as other vegetables). We've found that it goes particularly well with tomatoes and roughly grated carrots.

Miso Dressing

1 heaping tablespoon red miso (akamiso) or white miso (shiromiso)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup safflower oil (or any other neutral oil)

Put the miso, garlic, ginger and sugar into a food processor. Pulse a few times, until the garlic and ginger are finely chopped. Add the rice vinegar all at once and pulse until you have a well-mixed slurry. Turn on the processor and, with the processor running, add the safflower oil in a slow, steady stream until you have a thick emulsion.

If you don't have a food processor, you can mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and mix both with the miso and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the rice vinegar and whisk to combine. Whisking like mad, add the safflower oil in a slow, steady stream until you have a thick emulsion.

Miso dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.

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