This week I’ve been looking for new and interesting things to do with salads. I’m a big fan of ginger. Ginger Ale, Ginger plants, and yes, ginger salad dressing. I even have a ginger plant that I can dig up a rhizome anytime I want and grate it up for whatever I need. Yummmm.
I noticed that my local store has stopped carrying my favorite version of a ginger dressing. I went looking for another. It also seems that they load them with a lot of oil too – and it’s pricey. Why? Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples. Oh, no that won’t do. Where’s my shovel….and Magic Bullet… let’s mix up our own.
Since Asian classics aren’t my forte, I follow a template. Which means finding something everyone likes first. The Foodies on The Net seem to have a particular fascination with Benihana’s Ginger Salad Dressing. I’ve never been to Benihana’s so, I’m game. There are postings raving about it all over, and even a copy of the recipe on www.food.com as listed in the ‘Top Secret Recipes’ book. Either way, it sounds good, but too much oil, and there are no carrots. I love carrots! See how this happens – I just can’t leave anything alone. I spent the rainy morning in the kitchen blending up my own lower fat and generally healthier version, and here it is for you.
Step 1: Clean-up that mini-blender, if you’ve got one. Or a big one – they all work. Gather the goodies and get out that cutting board. There are lot’s of ingredients, but be patient Grasshoppah ! (come on, you don’t remember Kung-Fu!)
1/2 Cup Onion, minced fine
1/4 Cup Peanut Oil
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 Tbl Water
2 Tbl Ginger, fresh, grated
2 Tbl Celery, grated (or minced very fine)
2 Tbl Ketchup (yes, I make my own – but that’s another blog)
2 Tbl grated baby carrots
4 tsp Soy Sauce (I used, 2 soy sauce, and 2 Ponzu, a milder, citrusy soy sauce)
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Lemon Juice, fresh is best
1/2 tsp (1 lg clove) Garlic pressed or minced super fine
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Xanthan Gum (yes, it’s natural…I’ll explain below)
Step 2: Chop it all up, measure it all out and get it in the blender. I like to grate what I can to keep it a super fine – remember we’re making dressing here, not salsa.
Step 3: Look how healthy that looks already! See how fine those onions are. Don’t grate them with the others, they’ll just be mush.
Step 4: Find one of those dressing bottles you’ve got stashed in the back of your cabinets – I know you’ve got ’em! OK, here’s that weird stuff called Xanthan Gum. This bottle is $8 at the health food store and it lasts forever, because a little goes a long way. It’s derived and processed from fermenting sugars (you can Wiki it). Industry has been using it for years, and not just for food. They use it to make drilling mud slimy…yes, oil drilling. This is a stabilizer used to ‘thicken’ things instead of oil in many of the fat-free store bought items. As well as added to gluten free breads. It’s become a new kitchen staple here.
The Count: Look at that calorie count! 56 ! I love it – and it’s good for you too. Ginger is so good for the digestive system and then there are all those other veggies too. I’m feel in’ so good about it. You could lessen the Peanut Oil, but you’d need to up the Xanthan Gum. Then I might add a tiny bit of Sesame Oil (a little goes a long way there too) for extra flavor to make up for the missing peanut.
Here’s another idea, do you like spicy? OK, then you’ve probably got a rooster labeled bottle of Sriracha Sauce around – add a drop or two. Ouch – careful !
The Finale: This recipe makes just enough to fill one of those dressing bottles – almost like I planned it that way! I couldn’t wait for lunch to try it, so I testing it on some of that organic celery. So Good! Just enough gum to make it stick to the veggie – not too much garlic or ginger bite. I’m looking forward to lunch today – a salad topped with this dressing and a few of those China Boy lower fat Chinese crunchy noodles I found. Yummy… I’m starving and it’s only 10:30!!!