Do you usually buy or make your own salad dressing? With our busy lives and wide selection of dressings on store shelves, it’s difficult to resist them in the supermarket. However, the homemade dressing does taste much better than store bought dressings and much healthier too. If you are not familiar with making your own dressing, don’t worry, I’ll show you how. It’s all about knowing the simple rules of thumb and experimenting!
I’ll show you the basics of making salad dressing and share an easy Asian salad dressing that goes really well with Spinach Salad or any kinds of leafy salad!
Oil vs. Vinegar Ratio for Salad Dressing
For salad dressing, oil and acidity are 2 very important components. You just have to remember the standard ratios for oil : acids ranges from 2 : 1 to 3 : 1 ratio. I recommend starting from 2 : 1 ratio. For example, you can combine 4 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Oil of Your Choice
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is most commonly used for western style salad dressing. However, for Japanese salad dressing, neutral flavored oil like vegetable oil and canola oil are usually used.
Acids of Your Choice
Any kinds of citrus juice like lemon, lime, orange is the simplest acids you could use. Or you could use vinegar as well. For western dressing, balsamic vinegar, white/red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, and cider vinegar are commonly used while for Japanese salad dressing we use rice vinegar.
By the way, some people call rice vinegar “rice WINE vinegar” but they are actually the same thing. The rice vinegar is rice wine that has been turned into vinegar.
Don’t be afraid to mix both citrus juice and vinegar, or two kinds of vinegars for your own secret recipe. It’s all about experimenting.
Variations for Salad Dressings
Now you’ve got oil and acid components in the dressing. What’s next? Add other ingredients and experiment to discover what flavors work best for you! The different combination yields all kinds of different flavors in the dressings! You will definitely go through some trial and errors, but without experimenting, you don’t know what type of dressings you might like!
Here are some suggestions of ingredients you could put in your dressing mixture:
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper is a MUST: Adding a bit of salt brings out the true flavor of the food, just like a magic. Instead of adding more seasonings, add a pinch of salt to adjust. If you are using salty ingredients like soy sauce, remember to reduce the amount of salt added.
- Fresh Ingredients: Chop garlic, ginger, shallots, chives, parsley and scallions into fine pieces and add them into the dressing.
- Seasonings: Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, ponzu, miso, tahini, red pepper flakes, ground sesame seeds, etc… You can add almost anything!
- Sweeteners: Don’t be afraid to sweeten if the acid component is too strong. You can add honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.
- Fresh or Dried Herbs: Choose one of herbs like basil, oregano, marjoram, mint, dill, etc to add more flavors.
- Sprinkles: Sprinkle sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pecans, cashews to add texture to the dressing and salad!
Equipment for Salad Dressing
You really don’t need anything special to make salad dressings at home, but I have 2 kitchen items are that are “helpful” if you have them.
- Flat whisk
SOOOOOO many people had asked me about this flat whisk that I often use in my recipe and YouTube videos. Unlike a regular whisk, this flat whisk is perfect when you have small amount of liquid on the bottom of the mixing bowl. You get a nice whip out of the dressing or mixture you have in the mixing bowl.
- Mason jar (or really, any type of jar)
You don’t need a whisk if you can use a jar. Just close the lid and shake it up. But the best part is that you can store in the refrigerator directly from the table. As I usually make small portions of dressing at a time and only keep it for several days in the fridge since I don’t sterilize the jars beforehand.
Wait, still don’t know where to start? Try this, memorize the following recipes: 2 Tbsp. EVOO, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper! It’s one of the best tasting dressing and also the easiest. Here are other dressings that my family love below:
Japanese Salad Dressings on Just One Cookbook
Here’s the video on How To Make Spinach Salad with Asian Salad Dressing on my YouTube Channel! I hope you enjoy this recipe!
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- 3 Tbsp. (23 g/0.8 oz.) walnuts
- ¼ red onion
- 1 navel orange
- 3 oz. (85 g) baby spinach
- To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tbsp. canola oil, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1½ Tbsp. white wine vinegar, ¼ tsp. grated ginger, ¼ tsp. sugar, and ½ Tbsp. sesame seeds. Set aside.
- Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and toast the walnuts, stirring frequently until fragrant. Transfer the walnuts to a plate and set aside.
- Slice the red onion thinly. Cut the navel orange into 8 wedges. Slice off the peel and pith. Cut each wedge into 3 pieces.
- Add the spinach, the navel orange, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour as much dressing as you like and toss gently to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately.