This salad happens to be my older son’s favorite part of dinner at any Japanese or Hibachi restaurant. It’s a great change of pace from the usual vinaigrette and a perfect companion to any Asian dish.
The thick dressing also makes a great topping for steamed or roasted veggies like broccoli, asparagus, sugar snap peas, green beans, or cauliflower and is a nice dunk for raw veggies, too. You might sauté some tofu or chicken, mound it on hot rice, and spoon the dressing on top—that to me is comfort food.
The Japanese carrot-ginger dressing lasts in the fridge for at least a week, so that’s why this is a recipe for a big batch, more than double what you would use for a salad for a family of four or so. Might as well make it worthwhile to rev up the food processor, right? The salad part is just a suggestion—use whatever lettuce and veggies your family is into.
And how nice that the dressing has so many carrots built right in? Seriously the dressing is a full serving of vegetable before it even hits the salad.
I usually make this in a double batch. The dressing is so thick I end up using a lot of it on a salad. And then the next day I would be sad to know we had used it all up in one meal.
Check out that orange – but I’m now thinking that this would be cool to make with purple or magenta carrots. Back to you on that soon, with photos.
Did you know you can peel ginger with a teaspoon? It’s true—the skin is very thin, and if you take a teaspoon and turn the bowl part in toward the ginger and scrape away with the edge of the spoon, it will take the skin right off quickly. A spoon can get into those creases and crevices of the ginger better than a regular vegetable peeler. This task can safely keep a young sous chef busy for a while. Check out this video to see how it’s done.
Kids can also measure and dump things for the dressing into the food processor. And they can assemble the salad.
And then check out the video below for the how-to of how to put together this dressing in minutes.
Japanese Restaurant Salad Dressing
For the Japanese Carrot-Ginger Dressing
- 3 medium-size carrots peeled and cut into about 1-inch chunks
- 1 piece 2-inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut into disks
- 1 shallot minced, or 1⁄4 cup minced onion
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar or 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup canola, peanut, or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Asian dark sesame oil see Note
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons miso paste optional, but recommended
- 2 teaspoons mirin optional
For the Salad
- 6 to 7 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce about 11⁄2 heads lettuce or 2 hearts of romaine
- ½ cups shredded peeled carrots
- ½ cucumber preferably seedless or English, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
- Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cups steamed tiny broccoli florets optional
- Make the Japanese carrot-ginger dressing: Place the carrot chunks, ginger, shallot or onion, rice vinegar, canola oil, sesame oil, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until well combined. Add the miso and mirin, if using, and 1⁄4 cup of water and puree until nicely blended and fairly smooth. If you want your dressing a little thinner, you can add another tablespoon or two of water and puree again.
- Make the salad: Place the lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and broccoli, if using, in a large serving bowl and drizzle about 1⁄2 cup of the dressing on top, or more if desired. Toss the salad and serve.
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