Super Bowl

Shoyu Dip With Sesame Crunch From Sheldon Simeon

October  4, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop Stylist: Molly Fitzsimons.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Sheldon Simeon's creamy-salty-tangy dips—anytime, pantry-friendly pupus from his cookbook Cook Real Hawai‘i—are so simple and joyful, I had to give you two of them. The other is his Kim Chee Dip. Make one, make both, repeat.

As Sheldon writes in Cook Real Hawai‘i, “Mayo and shoyu. Shoyu and mayo. There is no kitchen in Hawai‘i lacking these essentials, the building blocks of teriyaki and mac salad. I buy them in the gallon jugs they sell at Costco, if only because when raising four kids you can never really have too much.

“It’s not surprising that at some point a clever pupu connoisseur figured out that when you mix the right about of shoyu with the night amount of mayo, you end up with a tasty dip that grooves beautifully with many things, sort of like a homegrown spin on veggies and ranch dressing. At the Simeon house, we didn’t even know what ranch was when we were little!

“In the hierarchy of pupus, this is the most basic and elemental, but that’s the appeal. My version is fancied up from what my uncles and aunties snacked on watching Lakers games in our garage, but the salty-savory base is there, amplified with nutty sesame seeds and bright lemon zest. As for veggies, use whatever is in season and be creative. Shoyu mayo goes with everything.”

Of the lemon oil, he writes, “During an insane period in my life when I was working double shifts at two restaurants, I cooked at an Italian place on Maui called Vino’s. It was there that I was introduced to Agrumato brand lemon olive oil, which is made by pressing lemon zest with olives so the citrus flavor infuses into the oil. The first time I tasted it, my mind was blown—I was amazed you could add both brightness and richness to a dish at the same time.

“Since then, lemon olive oil has always been in my pantry—I even brought a bottle with me during both seasons of Top Chef. Though it’s worthwhile to pick up a bottle for $25 at a gourmet food store or online, you can also easily make lemon olive oil yourself using fresh peels. I’ll use the stuff anywhere I would use regular olive oil—in dressings, in sauces, or for a quick drizzle to finish a dish just before serving. Can’t go wrong.”

A few more tips: If your sesame seeds aren’t already roasted, you can toast the seeds in the skillet first, stirring often, until they start to turn golden, before adding the sugar and salt. When making the lemon olive oil, definitely don’t let it bubble—it will kill the lemon fragrance and make the oil cloudy. The lemon oil recipe will make more than you need for this recipe, but you’ll be very happy to have it around.

Recipe adapted very slightly from Cook Real Hawai‘i (Clarkson Potter, March 2021).

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Hear more about this recipe from Sheldon himself on our podcast The Genius Recipe Tapes. Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Shoyu Dip With Sesame Crunch From Sheldon Simeon
  • For the Shoyu Dip With Sesame Crunch:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Olive Oil (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds assorted vegetables, cut into 3-inch spears, for serving (see note)
  • For the Lemon Olive Oil:
  • 2 lemons, thoroughly scrubbed in hot water
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. For the Shoyu Dip With Sesame Crunch:
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, shoyu, lemon oil, lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Season to taste with pepper and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
  3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted and has caramelized around the sesame seeds, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove this from the pan to a plate, let cool, then crush it up and sprinkle over the dip. Serve with your assortment of vegetables.
  4. Note: Eat the dip with whatever vegetables are on hand—carrots, radishes, watercress, green beans, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, eggplant, squash, etc.—either raw, blanched, steamed, or roasted. Chill them before serving.
  1. For the Lemon Olive Oil:
  2. Peel the lemon zest in long strips with a vegetable peeler, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith. (Reserve the lemon flesh and juice for another use.) Combine the zest strips and olive oil in a saucepan and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If any bubbles appear, even on the side of the pan, reduce the heat or briefly remove the pan from the heat. Let the oil cool to room temperature while the zest strips are left in to steep (about an hour will do). Strain out the zest and transfer the lemon oil to a clean jar or sealable container. Store in a cool, dark place. The oil will keep for about 1 month on the shelf, or several months in the fridge (just be sure to bring it up to room temperature before using).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • StreetSong
  • AnneOAK
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

2 Reviews

AnneOAK February 5, 2023
I was eager to try this given all the hype but it ended up tasting as I thought it would: like salty mayonnaise. After a time in the fridge it took on an additional fishy taste. Blegh. Waste of perfectly good ingredients!
StreetSong February 3, 2022
This looks wonderful and I can't wait to try it. Just want to point out two typos that jumped out at me in the 3rd paragraph ("right about of shoyu" and "night amount of mayo"). I hate to see excellent writing tripped up by typos!