Daikon salad was on the menu tonight. I’m not keen on the shoyu-based Japanese salad dressing from the store but it goes really well with daikon. I like it better if I add wasabi which is a trick I learned from the izakaya chain, Tengu. But I didn’t want to shop so I decided to make do with what was in my fridge and the tips learned from my friend Chieko. The result was much better than anything I could have bought premade.
Because I love my friends I am going to share the recipe with you. If you are familiar with Japanese cooking this probably won’t be ground shaking for you, but if you are looking for a new taste sensation give this a go.
Flavor target: amazuppai (sweet and sour) with a strong umami base.
Miso koji 2 Tbsp
Kurozu (black rice vinegar) 2 Tbsp
Lemon juice squeeze from one quarter wedge
Olive oil 1 tsp
Sashimi shoyu 2 Tbsp
Sugar 1.5 tsp
White onion minced 2 Tbsp
Green onion 1 Tbsp
Explaining the Ingredients
Miso koji is a fermentation starter for miso. It seems to be quite popular this year. It tastes just like miso but is less processed. This is a great site if you want to read more about it. Variation: if you can’t find miso koji use regular miso.I don’t recommend red or aka miso but if you prefer that taste, go for it.
Kurozu is rice vinegar made from genmai (brown rice) and is less filtered. It has a more pungent taste. This ingredient has also been experiencing a popularity boom for its reputed health benefits. Variation: regular rice vinegar will work fine. Cider vinegar might do in a pinch. If you try the cider vinegar let me know.
Sashimi shoyu just tastes better than regular shoyu. Maybe it’s more refined or fermented but it has a lighter taste to it that is almost wine-like. It’s a smaller bottle and more expensive but worth it. Not to be used if you are doing teriyaki or niku jaga. Variation: reduced salt kikkoman brand is kind of close.
Sugar is self explanatory but traditionally it would be mirin instead of sugar. Mirin generally sits unused in my fridge so I stopped buying it. I can’t taste any real difference between mirin and sugar and I feel like I have to add heaps of mirin before I notice any effect.
Onion gives it some flavor and some body to the dressing. It also seems to keep it attached to the daikon. Variation: red onion would probably taste better but none was at hand tonight. Green onion is completely optional.
Olive oil could be replaced by any salad oil.
My friend Chieko’s know how has been a basis for trying different recipes in the kitchen. According to her, shoyu, vinegar and mirin are the main basis for a lot of Japanese dressings with miso not to far behind. Yuzu (citrus type), yuzu kosho (spice made of yuzu), wasabi and sesame are all common things to add to the base to get different favors. Experiment with amounts and spices to come up with something you like.
The amounts can be varied in order to suit your taste. I prefer a strong vinegar taste so I add more vinegar. The lemon juice adds some zip if you want more liquid without adding more vinegar or oil. Adding more shoyu is also an option but it gets quite salty and the miso koji is already salty.