Conquering Salad Dressing

I don't believe that some people are born with natural talent. I do believe in inborn inclinations. You can't be a naturally born cook, but you can certainly be more inclined to learn cooking. I've always thought this was why I was the top of my class in my "Housewifery" class (yes, that's the official name on the English version of my junior high school transcript). Whether it was sewing or cooking, it just wasn't difficult for me to learn at all. Over the years I learned how to cream butter, knead a dough, make a roux, julienne carrots, emulsify mayonnaise, and of course roast a chicken. But there are still a few things I just could not get right. One of them is making a pie dough. No matter what I do, my pie dough always comes out on the dry side. Obviously I need to add more water (duh!) But I usually end up using double or triple the amount of water indicated in the recipe and the dough remains dry. It's very strange. I decided to put this off until I get a really big food processor.

The second thing I never made well is salad dressing. Julia Child made it look so easy -- some olive oil, some lemon juice, some vinegar, some mustard, salt and pepper, and voila! My salad dressing always comes out too tart or bland, probably because I just don't follow any recipe on the amount of each ingredient. This, unlike the pie dough, was absolutely maddening to me. Pie dough, ok, there's some chemical reaction going on with the gluten formation and all that butter had to stay cold, yadayada. Salad dressing, on the other hand, is just a mixture of liquids. There has got to be a ratio that isn't too hard to find. So finally after peeking at some online recipes, I put together a rather simple and tasty dressing! Before, my experimental dressings just sent dressed salad to the garbage bowl. It was finally quite a relief to hear Mike asking me "to make the miso dressing " week after week. This is now a stable recipe! It goes well with spring mix, arugula, and/or baby spinach.

Recipe: Miso Salad Dressing

2 tsp dark miso
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
several drops roasted sesame oil

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender on high until the mixture is creamy and no lumps of miso is present.
2. Toss salad with dressing and serve!


charles said…

wait, you went to junior high in taiwain, right? don't tell me that it was a required class for everyone!
Albertitto said…
You are correct -- it was a required subject. In fact, in Taiwan you just don't get to choose anything in school. All classes are fixed. In high school you can declare you want to study "humanity," "science/engineering," or "medicine." And for each category, a set of classes are chosen for you. It might be different now though...

Actually, my school required "housewifery" AND "industrial arts" (like wood shop) for both boys and girls. Most schools have girls take one and boys take the other. I think you know which is matched with which.

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