There are two salad dressings I look forward to when I eat at Japanese restaurants: the carrot-ginger dressing with its iconic chunky orange texture; and the goma, or sesame, dressing, a smooth and creamy concoction with telltale flecks of sesame seeds. Both are delicious, both are easy enough to make at home with the right recipe, but only one have I managed to find a suitable store-bought version for.
The Deep-Roasted Sesame Dressing from Kewpie (whose Japanese mayonnaise I’m already fully enamored with) is a delectable one. Its nutty flavor is deep, its applications endless. Sure, you can dress a simple salad with it (I love a crisp and green mix of iceberg—yes, iceberg!—and tender spinach leaves), but it’s lovely as a dip for all manner of raw vegetables, a topping for a cold tofu salad (just what the doctor ordered on the muggiest of summer days), and drizzled over shredded poached chicken or quickly blanched spinach for a very semi-homemade version of goma-ae. It’s also super in a sandwich or nori-based vegetable wrap (sliced avocado is key!), or you can toss it through with noodles, cabbage coleslaw or thinly sliced red cabbage mix, or even a big pile of shredded carrots.
According to the dressing ingredients, the Deep-Roasted Sesame Dressing includes, among other things, canola oil, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seeds, vinegar, salt, and egg yolk (a necessary aid to the dressing’s creaminess). The ingredients aren’t unlike what is traditionally required of a homemade sesame dressing, luckily. It’s just housed in a much more convenient and ready-to-go package and doesn’t require a whisk or food processor, or pulling out all of the necessary ingredients and the not-impossible-but-still-a-requisite step of crushing the ground sesame seeds.
I’m going to admit I love it better than any homemade varieties I’ve made—in part due to its undeniable convenience, but also because it’s always consistent: consistently flavored; consistently smooth and emulsified; and consistently balanced with the sweet, tangy, salty, and roasty toasty elements.
I do try to make much of my salad dressings and largely olive oil-based vinaigrettes at home; but I’m certainly not above getting a little help from the supermarket, especially when the store-bought version is as good as this. It’s so good, in fact, that I can’t help but preach its sweet and nutty merits to any friend who will listen (and hat tip to my friend John, who first got me hooked!). I can pick it up pretty easily here in New York City’s many Asian grocery stores, but a quick search shows that it’s readily available online, too.
If you’re already a Kewpie fan by virtue of its stellar Japanese mayo, give this Asian sesame dressing a taste. Use it on its own for an instant salad pick-me-up, or as an ingredient or marinade when you’re looking to shave minutes off a meal—and don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying several bottles at a time.