Ginger salad dressing may be used on salads, in stir fries or as a marinade for meat, fish or poultry. Made with fresh ginger root, garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and peanut and sesame oils, this dressing is a staple in Japanese steakhouses. Home cooks may vary the ingredients, but fresh ginger should always be used for the best flavor.
The fresh ginger root is peeled to reveal its inner yellow flesh. For using in ginger salad dressing, it should be very finely chopped, or minced. Minced garlic is also used in the dressing. Some cooks also like to add finely chopped onions as well as celery. While the ginger adds a slight spiciness, the soy sauce gives the dressing its saltiness.
Japanese soy sauce, called tare, also tastes sweet. Honey or sugar may be added to other types of soy sauce used in a ginger dressing. If tare is used, less sweeteners are likely to be needed. While some cooks prefer to add a little white sugar to the dressing, many others prefer the richer qualities of brown sugar or honey.
To balance out the spicy, salty and sweet notes in the salad dressing, a slightly sour effect is created by the addition of rice wine vinegar. For cooks who don't live in Asia, it's often possible to find it in an Asian food shop or other grocery stores. Lemon or orange juice is often substituted in recipes for ginger salad dressing. Mustard and pepper may also be added to enhance the flavor of the ginger dressing. Peanut and sesame oils are typically added last. The mixture may be blended together using a hand-held whisk or an electric food processor or blender.
Simple salads such as grated cabbage mixed with peanuts and chilled ginger dressing can be delicious with the combinations of the different flavors used. The Japanese vegetarian staple tofu can be livened up in flavor by frying, then tossing with ginger salad dressing. All types of stir fries may also be flavored with this dressing. Marinating any type of fish or poultry as well as beef in ginger dressing for a few hours before cooking can also make it taste more flavorful. While making the dressing from scratch is quite quick and easy, there are also commercially bottled versions available for extra convenience.