Wafu Dressing (Japanese Salad Dressing) 和風ドレッシング

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Wafu Dressing | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Today I’m sharing another recipe requested by a reader and it is Wafu DressingWafu (和風) means Japanese-style.  You might have a similar Japanese food term that starts with “Wa” and that is Wagyu (和牛), which means Japanese beef.  In Japanese, Wa (和) means Japanese style.  Washoku means Japanese meal, and in Japanese hotels you can request for Washitsu which is Japanese style rooms with tatami and traditional futon setup instead of mattress.  Okay enough about Japanese lesson… 😉

Wafu Dressing | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Wafu Dressing refers to a salad dressing that consists of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetable oil.  Every household has slightly different recipe and this is my version with grated onion to make it extra flavorful.  On a side note, if you replace half of the vegetable oil with sesame oil, we call it Chuka (中華) Dressing, meaning Chinese-style dressing in the Japanese culinary world.  It’s kind of funny to me that the Japanese has a “Chinese” dressing since I know from my Taiwanese husband that salad exists in the Chinese food culture but it’s not common.

There are so many kinds of Wafu Dressing choices available in Japanese supermarkets, but homemade dressing has no MSG and preservatives and the best part is you can adjust the flavor as you wish.  The ingredients are very typical for Japanese cooking so I hope you will give this a try.

Wafu Dressing | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Before you check the recipe, I’d like to share My Three FavoritesErin of Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts tagged me in a game called “My Three Favorites”.  If you are not familiar with her blog, I hope you visit her blog to see what she’s been cooking and baking!  I don’t make dessert often and you might be craving for it so check out her delicious sweet desserts and savory food!  The rule of this game is to pick 3 of your favorite dishes and share them again.  Then you tag 5 other bloggers to play along!  So let’s begin.

Favorite #1: Korokke (Japanese Croquette)

This is my most favorite food (among my mom’s recipes)!

Korokke (Croquette)

Favorite #2: Okonomiyaki

My favorite of all time!  Japanese pancake/pizza.


Favorite #3: Sweet Potato Pie

One of my favorite desserts I enjoy making.

Sweet Potato Pie

And here are the bloggers that I tag!  This time I picked food bloggers who actually took their time to give me some photography tips and taught me some valuable skills along the way since I started blogging.  I would like to thank you for your generosity and kindness.  Without you, my food photography wouldn’t be the same.  Thank you very much.  There are 4 bloggers who helped me and they are listed in alphabetical order.

6 Bittersweets

From My Lemony Kitchen…

Sandra’s Easy Cooking

Wok with Ray

Now Wafu Dressing recipe!

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Wafu Dressing (Japanese Salad Dressing)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 3-4
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk everything together. Drizzle on top of a simple salad of iceberg lettuce topped with tomatoes, boiled egg, wakame, cucumber and red radish.
The dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

Update: Photos are updated in November 2013.

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    • This salad is very light and refreshing, so this would even go with some heavy main dish too. Or keep it healthy all the way with anything light…

  1. Oh Nami, will this dressing replace my beloved Ponzu? :)

    I chuckled while reading your posting about the non-existence of Chinese salad, I am still so surprised that there are so many variations of Japanese salad. I believe Vietnamese people eat lots of raw vegi also, sometimes as salads, most of the time just items they dump into hot soup or combined in wraps. I have gotten accustomed to that since Jon is Vietnamese, though the last time we went to eat at a 7 course wrap your own Viet restaurant, he got seriously food poisoned, so now we are very careful with raw vegi while eating out…

    Have a great weekend, it’s beautiful today at Houston, actually a bit chilly in the morning, could this mean fall is finally here?

    • I desperately want to eat salad whenever I visit Taiwan… :-) Oh no really? Now you scare me to eat pho… but maybe that’s okay since we put in hot noodle soup? We go eat pho a lot… I always want to try 7 course dish in a Vietnamese restaurant but haven’t had a chance (and even forgot about it). You reminded me and I should carefully pick a good restaurant. It’s beautiful day here as well. :-) Have a great weekend!

  2. Your salad look very very delicious..I love this idea, arrangement’s of the salad and I did make it several time, but never with your delicious dressing..I will make it this weekend. Thank you so much for tagging, and mentioning me, you are so sweet!!!!

  3. Love the zing the grated onion adds to this dressing. This is so much better than bottled ones. I also love your 3 favorites and you know I’m all over #3!

  4. Tracey

    Nami-san, that you so much for sharing wafu dressing. I always loved that it enhanced the salad ingredients instead of covering them, as so many heavy American-fu (!) dressings do. Have you ever made it with grated ginger? With winter rolling in, ginger would be a good way to sneak its healing powers in without anyone really knowing it.

    I bet this would good as tempura or gyoza dip. Especially with daikon… Hmmm…

    • Oh yes, sesame seeds, ginger, plums, yuzu kosho, shiso leaves… all optional! Maybe I should have mentioned that…thanks for pointing it out!

  5. I’ve tried to replicate the Japanese salad dressing before without much success. Your recipe is a great find! I’m saving it and am going to try it out!

  6. Hi Nami, I love your Japanese lesson! Can we have more of those? It’s so helpful =)

    That is so interesting. Now I am going to start paying attention to the variation between the Japanese and Chinese dressing. I’ve always loved this. It’s light and flavorful! And gorgeous photos!!

  7. Nami, this looks exactly like the salad sauce I have been making since I discovered Japanese cuisine, but I didn’t know it was typically Japanese (I thought it was my invention 😉 ). The only ingredient that is stunning here is the grated onion. I can only imagine it changes completely this dressing! I never put any seaweed in my salads, but it looks delicious!
    I also adore korokke (since I made yours beef and carrot one), I have even bought some beef especially for korokke this weekend. Hopefully one day my korokke will look as cute as yours. I have never had okonomiyaki, but have been meaning to prepare it for ages! You must have really got precious photography advice because your photos are extraordinary!

    • I always admire you for trying out ingredients to make something new. Once you add grated onion, it makes it…how do I say… not “creamy” but it adds very nice texture to it. Sorry I don’t know how to express it in English. But try adding it even little bit and sugar is optional, but I need sugar to balance out. You are making Korokke this weekend? I wish Switzerland is near. I’ll be at your door step by smelling Korokke.

    • どういたしまして! (I’m so happy you can now read Hiragana. We should comment to each other in Hiragana one day (just kidding, don’t get heart attack! haha.)

  8. Nami, thank you for the mention and your appreciation! I am really glad to have given you some my humble pointers but even without it, you have a natural talent in food photography! I am looking at that bowl of salad and that wows me because of your ability to combine and compliment the colors! Thanks again, Nami!

    ~ ray ~

  9. I love coming here because every time I come here I always see new tasty recipes which sound easy to make..:-) ! I’ve been meaning to make your sesame salad dressing, but I only have black sesame seeds available. Will this work out too?

  10. Nami, I really appreciate the Japanese lesson :) I have a LOT to learn! Your dressing sounds delicious….and your salad is another beauty! And thanks for sharing your 3 favorites…your dessert is gorgeous…and I’d love to sample your croquettes and pancakes, too. Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. Nami, I have always wanted to try the wafu dressing but old habits die hard. Whenever I make a salad, I went and make my usual vinaigrette, mustard honey or the usual simple olive oil and balsamic dressings. Your salad look refreshing and I can how satsifying it will be with the wafu dressing. Can’t wait to make this salad. You picked 3 lovely favorites of yours.

  12. Nami – Can a salad be any prettier than this? Great photo! I also love this simple dressing, and I can tell from the ingredients that I will love it. I am going to try it soon.

  13. The dressing sounds really nice! On the note of non-existent dishes. We have Russian dumplings and Brittany beans as some of the most popular dishes in Polish cuisine. Not sure anyone in Russia or France has heard of them though… but it makes the food sound more exotic!

  14. Nami, you now have given a name to a salad dressing that I’ve been making for years and having no idea that it was any type of traditional dressing – Chuka. However, the oils I use are sesame and a little peanut oil with the soy sauce and rice vinegar. I absolutely love it! So that means that your Wafu Dressing will probably become a staple in this house! Why pay money for ready-made dressings when you can serve one like this?

  15. It has been a long time since I heard the word washoku (and Yoshoku, came immediately to mind) I forgot about them, good to read you and be reminded of these things!

    Ciao and have a good Weekend!


  16. This is one of my fave Japanese dressing because of its tangy taste apart from the mayo dressing for salads. We used to go to a local Japanese restaurant that serves Wafu steak and they also use this dressing for the steak.

  17. I have got to try that korokke! I have never had or seen one but it looks amazing! And this salad dressing sounds like it would be the perfect starter for my awesome Japanese throwdown meal!

  18. Nami I’ve gotta try this dressing & I’m glad that all the ingredients are available in my store cupboard. See, I usually have challenges finding Asian ingredients at the stores in Doha. And oh your favorite recipes look totally scrumptious!

  19. How do you do it? You make a simple salad look like a star! I would love to give your dressing a try. And I will have to check out 2 of your 3 favorite dishes, since I’ve already seen your croquet recipe.
    Ps: have you made more changes on your blog? The layout look different.

  20. I didn’t know that there are so many different kinda Japanese salad sauces! I thought it’s more common for the Western salads. lol 😛
    It’s always fun and interesting visiting your blog and learning so many new things! 😉
    Btw, which type of onion did you use for this salad dressing? Big or small onions? Yellow, red or white onions? Before I started blogging, I only know big and small onions that are red/deep purplish in color. But now, I got to know about so many different kinds that I’m a little confused at times. 😛
    Hope you’ve a wonderful weekend!

    PS: I love all of your three favorite dishes!

    • Lyn – sorry about my late response. I use regular onion or sweet onion. I think the size can vary so just make sure you have about 1/4 cup of grated onion with juice. :-)

  21. I love simple dressings like this Nami! And your 3 choices were definitely good ones – I must have missed the post on the sweet potato pie, but I’m heading over to check it out right now =)

  22. Sounds like an Asian style vinaigrette, love this in leafy salads. BTW Ray gave me also a lot of tips in photography and it was you why I was introduced to him.

  23. Jamie @ the unseasoned wok

    HI Nami! I haven’t been around for a while! Ahhh soo busy. I love the changes to your site and the photos of the salad are beautiful! I am definitely going to try this one. I always make my own dressing, but I never make wafu style dressing. Shameful!

  24. This looks so delicious and gorgeous! The sweet potato pie reminds me of a combination of my mother’s and the apple pies from fast food restaurants. ^^ Nothing better than homemade, though.

  25. I buy a salad dressing here and it is called Wafu, I always thought it was the brand’s name. They sell it in a creamy color…maybe a different version. Well it is my go to salad dressing for any salad…I adore it. Fun I can try it at home now.

  26. krishna bhujel

    i have wanted it japanese salad dressing recipes ,, looking nice your salad and thank your nami your salad dressing .i always looking your post .

    • Really? Do you mind let us know what they are? We have never seen Chinese salad before (I’m not talking about salad served like Western style). What kind of salad and is it served with some sort of dressing?

  27. Love the recipe, thanks so much! Am going to try it this weekend, as I have a hankering for salads like this.

    About Chinese salads and their non-existence, I gently beg to differ. Perhaps your husband is from Southern China or grew up in a city, as I have Chinese friends who refuse to touch raw veggies. But Northern Chinese folk like my parents (farming folk in particular) definitely eat lots of raw veggies, in what can be considered something of a Chinese salad. My father’s favorite raw “salad” ingredients are raw spring onion, raw tofu, precooked tofu skin with hot pepper paste, soy sauce and black bean paste. Mmm mmm. It’s just usually not presented in a Western salad form, and rather like a wrap inside the tofu skin. Raw lettuce wraps of rice, meat and fresh cucumber straight from a garden with home-made bean paste is another raw veggie, salad-like dish I grew up eating during hot summers. My mom has also come up with her own Chinese salad variation with julienned carrots, cukes, tomatoes, tofu skin, seaweed, cellophane noodles, seasoned with lots of salt, sugar, garlic, and some soy sauce and soy vinegar. Good stuff :)

  28. William

    actually, i found this recipe a little bit too sour, so i added some sugar to sweeten it. And it turned out nice

  29. Satsuga

    Hi, I just came across this salad dressing from google search, and I tried making it right away. It tasted awesome! I will never again turn to those commercial ready salad dressing. Thanks very much for sharing this recipe :-)

    Oh and, I think I’m not meant to, but I added some grated leftover daikon to the mix, it’s so yummmm…..

  30. NONIK

    Hi Nami…My friend and I tried this recipe last week. We changed vegetable oil with olive oil and rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar. My friend said it taste okay first after she combined all except onion, although the taste was different with she had tasted in japanese restaurant before. But after we put onion in, it tasted bitter. Why my onion taste bitter? My friend said maybe the onion not ripe yet, but i am not so sure.

    Thank you.

    Because today is the last day of the year, I wish you will have a good new year ( よいお年をお迎えください).

    • Hi Nonik!

      Most Japanese dressing uses no fragrance light oil and olive oil might be too heavy. Also apple cider is a bit too strong for this type of dressing. I think the right kind of oil and vinegar is very important for Japanese style dressing.

      As for the onion, you can soak in cold water to remove the bitterness (for maybe 10 minutes), then squeeze the water out to add into the dressing if bitterness is too strong. Each onion is different so it’s hard to say, but if you enjoy the onion in general, it definitely adds nice texture and flavor to the dressing.

      Hope this helps. :)

      どうもありがとう!明けましておめでとうございます! :)

      • Charlotte

        Hey Nami,

        Would you please be able to recommend a healthier oil you could use instead of vegetable/canola oil?



        • Hi Charlotte! For this recipe, I use canola or vegetable oil, which is common oil to use for Japanese dressing. You can use grape seed oil too, or other neutral flavor oil.

  31. nic

    Hello Nami,
    Thanks for the salad dressing recipe. Can I sub light olive oil for canola oil? Also if it’s a must, can I use agave nectar instead of sugar?

    • Hi Nic! Yes you can substitute with olive oil and agave nectar if you like. Olive oil has stronger taste than vegetable/canola oil, so please adjust according to your liking. :) Enjoy!

  32. Charri

    I finally made the wafu dressing last night, I tried this morning it was sooo good.
    The only one thing really brothers me is hard to make grated onion juice.
    This recipe saves a lot of my money.
    I spent $7 CA dollar on one small bottle of wafu dressing.
    Now, I can make as much as I want, and it costs me so little.

    • Hi Charri! I’m really happy to hear you liked it! Regarding onion juice, it depends on how much water is inside the onion and what kind of grater you use. Do your best. You could just omit it too, but I like the texture the grated onion create in the dressing. Hope this helps. :)

    • Hi Roxanne! Sure, but please remember Japanese rice vinegar is more mild in acidic than standard vinegar. Maybe you can reduce the amount a little bit? Hope that helps! :)

  33. Linda

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s delicious and my four year old son, who refuses go eat salad, had FOUR helpings of salad with this dressing.

    • Hi Linda! I’m so happy to hear your 4-year old son liked this! My kids love this dressing too. And it’s great as it’s homemade and we can make it anytime. Thank you very much for your feedback. xo :)

  34. Maria

    This is so fantastic. Did not have vegetable oil so used peanut and it was still so yummy. I have been eating salads like a rabbit since discovering this dressing. Cannot wait to try your other dishes

    • Hi Maria! HAHAHAH “like a rabbit”!!! But I understand what you mean. When I like dressing, I feel like I can eat tons of salad too. Hope you enjoy other recipes from my blog. :) Thank you so much for your feedback!

  35. kazy

    Sorry such a latecomer here. This salad looks wonderful. I’m about to attempt to reproduce it this afternoon for lunch. With all the ingredients you mentioned to put in the salad, it sounds very very hearty and will satiate til dinner without having to snack on stuff. However, I am not familiar with the Wakame Brown Seaweed and what it looks like while purchasing it at my local Asian market. Is it in the cold section? Is it wet or is it dry? Please help. Thanks.

  36. helene hanada

    I’m so happy I found your blog:-)! I’ve been making this salad dressing w/addition of a little sesame oil. The salad (greens & toppings) are julienned & placed over somen noodles. Its refreshing when the temperature outside is just unbearable. Toppings I use are: kamaboku, plain egg omelet, carrots, negi.
    You have made all of my favorite foods-hijiki,agedashi tofu,(although I can eat tofu as is), kimpira& nimono just to mention a few.
    BT W, do you make your own dashi or is it OK to use pre-pkg dashi no moto ?

    • Hi Helene! I’m glad you found my blog, and thank you for your comments! It seems like you like oso-zai dishes. I’m glad you like those traditional Japanese dishes. :)

      I make my own dashi once in a while depending on dishes I make. I usually use Dashi Packet method and don’t use dashi no moto. Dashi packet can be hard, but it’s much easier to find dashi no moto.


    • Hi Maria! So happy to hear you enjoyed this dressing! It’s one of my favorite too – very simple and delicious! Glad you liked it too. :) Thank you for writing!

  37. Carol

    I have a stupid question…about the grated onion juice, I should using raw onion or cooked onion?

    Can I use it as a dip sauce with Grilled vegetable beef roll?

    • Hi Carol! It’s a raw onion. It gives nice texture to the dressing instead of just a liquid mixture. If you don’t like onion, you can omit it. If you don’t have extra step, you can also soak grated onion in water (over sieve so it’s easier to drain) to get rid of bitterness. For me, that tiny bitterness adds another dimension to the dressing. My kids don’t seem to notice the onion taste. Try both ways! Sure you can use it as a dip sauce (you can even heat up). I’d include onion if you use for meat dish. It gives very refreshing flavor. Hope you enjoy! :)