Salad

Benihana-Inspired Ginger Dressing Makes Even Watery Vegetables Whistle

March 17, 2017

Onion volcanoes! Flying shrimp! Acrobatic spatulas!

Behold, just some of the wonders of a show meal at Benihana—which, when the premiere location opened on New York's West 56th Street in 1964, was the U.S.'s first teppanyaki restaurant.

Much has been written about the chain, its founder (Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki was an Olympic wrestler who admitted he only knew how to cook French toast), and the feud for his fortune.

But today I am focusing neither on the high stakes performance nor the historical significance and family drama. Instead, I'm thinking about salad dressing—the only dressing that could get the twelve-year-old me, an attendee of many a squealing Benihana birthday party, to lick my plate of watery lettuce clean.

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Top Comment:
“Fun fact: Steph Curry told reporters last week, on his 29th birthday, that he was going to Benihana for his birthday celebration, as he always does! Before doing that though, he celebrated his 29th birthday on the court, by dropping 29 points on the 76'ers. Someone needs to send this recipe to Steph and his Food Network host wife, Ayesha. ;o)”
— AntoniaJames
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The sharply-sweet ginger dressing took the greens from pre-meal throwaway—just a box to check off, really—to my favorite part of the experience. (Yes, better than the ignited onion stupa.)

There are a plenty of copycat recipes on the web (this one from Todd Wilbur, the king of cracking "top secret recipes," calls for ketchup, peanut oil, minced celery, and soy sauce). But the version that I like these days might be less of an exact replica of Benihana's and a closer relative to the dressings that often accompany salads at U.S. sushi restaurants.

Slightly adapted from the blog Just One Cookbook, it's made with carrots, onion, miso, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and, of course, plenty of ginger, which blend into something like a saltier, more savory version of your favorite reviving juice.

Do know that this dressing is very gingery—an intensity balanced by the blandness of crunchy leaves. Start on the low end of the recommendation and scale up to suit your tastes.

And think beyond salad: This would make a great dipping sauce for fresh spring rolls, poached chicken, or sautéed shrimp. Just don't try catapulting them from your pan and into the mouth of your dinner companions, okay?

Any restaurant recipes you're dying to recreate at home? Tell us in the comments.

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6 Comments

AntoniaJames March 21, 2017
Fun fact: Steph Curry told reporters last week, on his 29th birthday, that he was going to Benihana for his birthday celebration, as he always does! Before doing that though, he celebrated his 29th birthday on the court, by dropping 29 points on the 76'ers. <br />Someone needs to send this recipe to Steph and his Food Network host wife, Ayesha. ;o)
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 19, 2017
This is my guilty pleasure dressing. Ice berg lettuce, shredded carrots and radishes. I've adapted the Saveur recipe to suit my tastes.mI dont make it often because I'm the only one around who enjoys it.
 
frecklywench March 18, 2017
Perfect timing! I had this dressing for the first time in ages last week and was wondering how to go about making it...
 
April March 17, 2017
There is an incredible Northern Mexican restaurant in Sacramento, CA called Tres Hermanas. While their standards like carnitas and mole poblano are incredible, the thing that I dream about is their cilantro dressing. I've tried recreating it about 100 times, but it never lives up to the dream.
 
Chloe March 17, 2017
This looks delicious! I'd love to see an adaptation of the cornbread served at Wildfire steakhouses. It's the best one I've had!
 
Jackson F. March 17, 2017
I've been looking for a way to shake up my dressing game, and I think this might just be what I need! Can't wait to make!