Friday, October 1, 2010

Miso-basil salad dressing

I had the same package of miso in my fridge for well over a year, and I still hadn’t gotten around to making a salad dressing out of it. I really like miso salad dressings, so on Monday while I was waiting for my split peas to soften, I used the last of the miso to make a salad dressing for my salad at dinner. I love my lemon-sesame dressing, and I think it’s great when I’m in the mood for some Asian flavor on my salad, but I wanted a change of pace.

I figured Mark Bittman would have a miso salad dressing in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and I was right. I made his recipe with a few variations. First, I added some Thai and regular basil because I have a ton of it and it’s really bright, a nice foil for the richness of miso. I also added some soy sauce. Bittman says to use sake or water to thin the miso. 3/4 cup of sake seemed like too much. I didn’t want to be able to make a cocktail out of my salad dressing, so I used 1/4 cup sake and 1/2 cup water. The sake flavor adds complexity without giving it any alcoholic taste. Bittman uses no oil in the dressing, which means it’s low in fat, but it’s also very thin. In this form, I think it would be a great marinade or sauce for cooked vegetables, but I had higher-viscosity dreams for my salad. I added some sesame oil directly to the dressing and combined about 1/4 cup dressing with 1 tbsp vegetable oil for my salad that night. I recommend that you add some oil when you make it or as you go along if you want a typical salad dressing consistency.

Miso is delicious. Every time I eat it, I promise myself I will use it more often because it’s so rich and has a great slightly sweet, fermented, salty taste. Looking through my mountains of cookbooks and recipes, I see quite a few with miso, and I hope to be trying more of them soon.

Miso-basil salad dressing

makes about 1 cup before adding oil

6 tbsp miso

1/4 cup sake or water

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp sweetener (I used agave nectar; sugar or honey would be fine)

1/2 cup Thai or regular basil, finely minced

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, or more to taste

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Vegetable oil, optional

Combine miso, sake, and water and whisk with a fork until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients except for vegetable oil. Season to taste with rice wine vinegar. Add vegetable oil until your desired consistency is reached.

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