Amanda tries to re-create a spectacular dressing....
It all started a little over a week ago. Sushi night at my house with some of my neighborhood girlfriends. I do it a few times a year. Lots of laughs (and wine) are regular components of the night. Usually I just order a few platters of different pieces of sushi and exotic rolls. This time, I wanted to add a salad to the mix. I was feeling inspired and wanted to make something special, (but easy) impressive and healthy. I had a hankering for carrot ginger dressing. I envisioned a pretty, crisp, fresh salad to begin our night, along with some Prosecco.
There are a few things I am very particular about, and like only when made in a certain style - hot and sour soup is one, gazpacho another, and carrot ginger dressing yet another...to name a few. I have a specific type of carrot ginger dressing that I like and I was in search of a recipe that sounded like it might meet my expectations. Right away I was attracted to one in particular - a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Newsletter. (the original recipe is at the bottom of the page on her site).
Seemed straightforward, looked pretty, and I imagined this was exactly what I was looking for. I bought the ingredients on Thursday, and the dinner was going to be on Friday. I decided I would make the dressing Thursday evening. I went to Whole Foods in search of the sweet white miso. Lo and behold, they were out of stock. The employee I spoke with recommended I use the red miso - that it wouldn't make much of a difference. As miso is not my forte, I took his advice and went with the red.
Once I began, right away I knew I would not have nearly enough. Having just got home from hot yoga, I was exhausted - it was 9 pm and I was ready for sleep. I made a quick batch, using the miso very sparingly as I did not know how it would taste. The recipe is for 1 serving. Knowing I would have 6 women over, I increased all of the ingredients. As I enjoy heaps of this kind of dressing on my salad, I wanted to have way more than enough. I took a small taste. For me, the shallot was too pronounced and rendered the dressing very "oniony" - too much so. Plus, I felt it was missing something. This is what you get for rushing and trying to create something when your heart is not in it. All I could think of was my bed. Not sure whether to throw it out, or start over, I finally decided to put it in a container and deal with it the next day.
So, morning came and off to work I went. Once I got home, I knew I'd have about 1 1/2 hours to finish the dressing before my guests appeared. Plus, I had to straighten up, feed the kids, set the table and pick up the sushi. The day before I had picked up pretty black plates on which to serve the salad. I was determined to make it a success. Before I did anything else, I had that dressing to contend with. I was on a mission!
I took the previous night's concoction out of the fridge. Got the Cuisinart out. Lined up the ingredients. I poured the dressing I had already made into the food processor. I knew I would not be adding anymore shallots. I would just add the other ingredients to balance it out. First, I re-tasted it. Definitely still too oniony. And it needed a touch of sweetness - perhaps that is what the sweet white miso would've helped with? I decided to add some mirin - a Japanese rice wine similar to sake but with less alcohol. And, it's sweet. So, I drizzled some in. Peeled 3 more large carrots, cut up a huge chunk of ginger, and added more rice vinegar, red miso, sesame oil, vegetable oil and water. Didn't measure anything - decided to just "wing it". After all, I was running out of time.
Pressed the puree button. When I felt it was the right consistency, it was time to try it. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! I couldn't believe it. I thought "this is it!" This is the recipe I've been searching for! It was literally 100% of what I had hoped for. I don't know how I did it. When the time came, I put some cut up Bibb lettuce and sliced avocado on each plate. I topped it off with a few heaping spoonfuls of the carrot ginger dressing. It was a tremendous hit. Everyone commented that it was better than the dressing they get in Japanese restaurants! I was so happy with the result.
But now here's the problem - I don't know if I can do it again. Was it luck? I'll find out tonight when I try to re-create it. Stay tuned....I will let you know later. And, I'm going to pay closer attention to the quantities I use so I can post them! Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe is terrific and I highly recommend it! Check it out by visiting the link above. I will post my version later!