Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gluten Free Benihana-style Ginger Salad Dressing

Since my oldest was little, her favorite restaurant was "Egg in the hat."  Those of you who have a teppanyaki restaurant nearby may have "shrimp in the pocket" or "steaming onion volcano" restaurant.  

The trademark style of cooking is known for theatrics as the chef prepares your meal before your very eyes.  Although, I always seem to manage contracting food poisoning at the local ones, our all-time favorite is Benihana in Orlando, FL (where we've never gotten sick).  

Over the years, we've done some searching and testing for a good fresh ginger salad dressing.  I think this one is our favorite.  I throw all the ingredients in the Ninja and zip.  It lasts for several days in the fridge and is delicious on all kinds of salads.

Aside: I'm not a big infomercial cooking gadget fan.  Most are ridiculous (no, you didn't make that pizza in thirty seconds - if I had a sous chef and a dishwasher, I could, too) but this is one I DO recommend.  No, it won't cut tin cans and wafer slice a tomato.  But, it will beat huge, frozen chunks of fruit into a beautiful puree!  We recently bought a new blender at WalMart and fried the motor in one batch of smoothies.  One.  Complete with burning smell and circuit board shorting.  My daughter begged for the Ninja (at Sam's - where it was around $49) and we decided to give it a try.  I buy bags of frozen fruit at Sam's as well (and Trader Joe's) and with all those tiny little blades running the full length of the stem it makes quick and easy smoothies.  And it doesn't leave a ton of chunks at the top because there are several blades throughout.  Just be careful - it's sharp! 

1/2 small white onion 
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (suggested: canola, vegetable)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a microplane (discard the fibrous remnants)
4" of celery (go ahead and use those scrawny inside pieces)
2 tablespoons ketchup (sure you can use tomato paste, but ketchup works better and I always have it)
4 teaspoons gluten free tamari or soy sauce (suggested: LaChoy)
2 teaspoons sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt

Truly the only prep you need to do is grating that ginger.  (I use a small paring knife to peel mine, but I hear you can use a spoon).  And trust me on this - do NOT substitute dried ginger.  That's great for, say, ginger cakes or gingerbread.  It is NOT for ginger salad dressing.  You can find ginger in a basket in your local supermarket, usually near the onions or the tofu in the produce department.  It's a weird little bulbous root and greyish brown in color.  There will be more than you need for this recipe.  I suggest grating it over some stir-fried veggies.  Fresh ginger has an amazing brightness, not unlike lemon, that livens up all kinds of dishes.  Personally, I hate biting into a chunk of it in my food.  But, grated, I can add a ton!

Zip it all in the blender.

Et voila.

Salad dressing.