Help me find this delicious dressing.
July 24, 2009 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Japanese Salad Dressing - where can I get more of this delicious dressing? - This is the website (and the only English writing) on the bottle. It's the lighter colored one that I tried and loved.

I tried it once and it was a friend of a friend of a friend whose relative brought some from Japan - there's no way for me to ask them where they got it or to get more from them.
1. Where can I buy some? I don't speak Japanese so ordering from that website wouldn't work. I also haven't seen it at Mitsuwa or any of the other Asian stores near me (NJ/NYC area). Ordering online OK too, if it's in English.
2. What kind of dressing is it and are there alternative brands very similar that are available in major Asian stores near me? What do the bottles look like if they're not in English?
3. How can I re-create this myself? I love making dressings instead of buying them, so while buying it would be great, if anyone knows what is in there that makes it so amazing and unique tasting, it would be awesome to be able to make such deliciousness myself. All I can pick out in it is sesame, but no sesame dressing I've made came close, and no sesame dressing I ever bought tasted similar. There's something very different about this dressing.

I will be so incredibly happy if someone can help me out with this!
posted by KateHasQuestions to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think a flavor profile of the dressing (your description of the flavor) would be very very helpful.

While you may not be able to find that EXACT brand in NYC, I surmise the dressing you love was a version of Goma or sesame seed dressing.

I have a passable, but as per experts, probably crap understanding of Japanese recipes. To my understanding, all Japanese dressings (or recipes, really) seem to be varying combos of rice vinegar (acid) real brewed soy sauce (savory) and mirin rice wine (a sweet) + varying larger or smaller amounts of dashi (japanese stock or broth which is basically kombu seaweed boiled with water and shaved bonito (tuna) flakes) tofu, fish, eel, miso, ground sesame seeds or whatever.

Not as complicated as it seems.

Anyway, here is what I suggest... Sunrise Mart on the 2nd floor on the corner of the building one block north of St. Mark's (29 3rd Ave) - loads of dressings there, try them all or ask for advice.

Or, go ahead and google Goma dressing recipes. Most commercial recipes contain MSG, so you are probably better alchemizing your fav combo of acid, sweet, savory + ground sesame on your own!

If I surmised too much with the sesame, sorry! But this was my first thought. Second thought is to printout that link you created and ask at your local shop for equivalent. Again, flavor may vary depending upon combined amounts of acid, savory and sweet - as this seems to me to be the defining elements of any particular sauce, stock, or dressing in Japanese cuisine.

I could be wrong. I am ultimately Gaijin, and therefore truly understand nothing of Japanese cuisine.

posted by jbenben at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2009

If you can't find an equivalent, ask the owner of one of the Asian groceries if they can order and stock it for you.
posted by contessa at 5:27 PM on July 24, 2009

From a quick Rikaichan (firefox plugin japanese translator) and taking a look at their site, and my *bad* Japanese... this looks like a regional, family type product. Like trying to get honey from a particular valley in Kentucky or something. It is 胡麻ドレッシング (goma-dressing) and the dark is 和風ごまドレッシング (japanese-style goma-dressing). So a goma-dressing from the web is your best bet. This place seems to brew their own rice vinegar and mirin and sake with a 'distinct' sesame flavor added.

All in all, looks like a specialty thing, 胡麻ドレッシング胡麻ドレッシング 220ml×3本入(化粧箱), 3 220ml (about 7.5 US fluid ounces) bottles go for 1,628円 (about $17.20 US).

It probably is made like jbenben said, just with fine ingredients.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:02 PM on July 24, 2009

As far as the flavor... sesame + soy sauce would be the best way to describe it, but I know I've tried dozens of sesame dressings and none were similar. It wasn't vinegary, and the soy sauce wasn't overpowering. I know if it sits for a while it separates and there's a dark brown (probably soy sauce) layer at the bottom.

Any other suggestions of stores with a good selection? But asking a store to order it for me might be an OK idea.
It'd be great if anyone here actually tried it and was able to point out exactly what 'type' of dressing it is that I need to look for.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:07 PM on July 24, 2009

Crescent Shop is a way to order stuff in Japan that won't ship overseas. They did a great job with two hot carpets I ordered from Amazon, back in 2007.
posted by @troy at 6:22 PM on July 24, 2009

^, if it wasn't clear
posted by @troy at 6:23 PM on July 24, 2009

It looks like your normal gomadare and wafu-goma dressings, but made by a shochu company in Fukuoka. (Looks like they specialize in some kind of sesame seed shochu, which they likely put in the dressing.) You probably can't find the exact brand in the US, but other companies make similar products, and some of them may export.

Not being able to see the actual ingredients list for these two dressings I can't be certain, but the basic ingredients for the gomadare (creamy) dressing are most likely mayonnaise, sake, vinegar, and sesame seed oil, while the wafu-goma (liquid) dressing is probably composed of ponzu (a kind of vinegar), sake, soy sauce, and sesame seed oil.
posted by armage at 6:53 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Incidentally, if you want to purchase that particular goma shochu by Beniotome, it looks like a wine shop in Fort Lee, NJ (just over the Hudson, IIRC) sells it. If you give them a call, they might be able to order you the dressing through their distributor since it comes from the same company as the shochu.
posted by armage at 6:56 PM on July 24, 2009

It sounds pretty similar to the distinctive sesame dressing they put on the radish salad at Kambi, on 14th Street off First Avenue. You might want to continue your investigation there -- at worst, you will have had an excellent radish salad.
posted by Eater at 7:22 PM on July 24, 2009

Truth be told, the sesame dressing (the opaque one, at least) is bog-standard stuff in Japan, as ubiquitous and "standard" as Italian or ranch dressing in the US. Just hit up your local Asian market, look for the salad dressings, and grab something with 胡麻 or ごま written on it. Odds are it will be just as incredibly delicious.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:41 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

I believe the basic ingredients to Japanese style salad dressing is just miso paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

And sugar I think.
posted by cazoo at 9:03 PM on July 24, 2009

I haven't tried this dressing myself, but its color is very similar to that of my all-time favorite Japanese dressing, Mr. Pietro, found at any Chinese or Japanese market. Yum! It's also a sesame dressing.
posted by choochoo at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2009

I just went to the supermarket here in Japan and looked at the ingredient list for gomadare. Listed ingredients are: vegetable oil, soy sauce, something acidic, sugar, ground sesame seeds, egg yolk, salt, bonito extract, flavouring. They appear in this order so if you want to make it this may help with proportions. Good luck!
posted by mukade at 12:36 AM on July 25, 2009

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