Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette

This dressing was made to go with the Strawberry Spinach Salad, but will work to dress other salads an foods as well. This would work well on a salad of arugula, mizuna, mei quin, and mushrooms, or would be nice on grilled fish or pork skewers. Just remember to go easy with the sesame oil. Use just enough to detect it, but not enough to flat-out taste it. The same goes with the soy sauce.


1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 pinch each salt and pepper
1 small pinch combined dried thyme, oregano, and marjoram
1/2 teaspoon honey mustard
1/4 cup grape seed, sunflower, or other neutral flavored oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dark roasted sesame oil* (or as needed)
1/8 teaspoon soy sauce (or as little as needed)


Rub the mixing bowl with the garlic clove, leaving streaks of oil visible on the bottom. Discard the garlic or use for something else.

Add the vinegar and the salt and pepper and the herbs. Allow flavors to marry a few minutes, then whisk in the mustard.

Pour in the oil in a thin steady stream, whisking all the while to emulsify until the dressing thickens and stays emulsified.

Whisk in half the sesame oil and taste the dressing. Whisk in enough sesame oil so that it registers in the nose and on the palate, but just barely. Add a few drops of soy sauce. You should notice the dressing becomes a little more robust, vibrant, but you do not want to taste the soy sauce as a distinct ingredient. It is used as a seasoning here. To test the dressing, dip a slice of strawberry into the dressing to see if there is enough sesame oil. Adjust the dressing as needed, using more sesame oil if not enough, or you can add more neutral oil to back off the sesame oil. The first time you do this dressing you might need to fiddle with it, but once you have done you will “get” it and it will be simple the next time you do it.

Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Chef’s Notes:

*I prefer Kadoya Black Sesame oil for it’s deeper rounder flavor, but if you can’t find the Black Sesame oil try their regular oil.

As mentioned in the headnotes, this dressing was made for the Strawberry Spinach Salad, but try it with any salad with assertive greens such as arugula, mizuna, mustards, chicories, and the like. It goes well with greens and salads that are served as sides with grilled meats. Shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms go well with this dressing also.

YIELD: 1 cup


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