Salad dressings make a wonderful gift!

3 salad dressings: tofu, strawberry spinach, lemon vinaigrette
Soy Mustard, Sesame Onion and Lemon vinaigrette

Whenever I am invited to a potluck dinner at a Korean friend’s home, I am usually asked to bring a salad. Making a salad really doesn’t require a whole lot of expertise but I think I get asked often because I make salads that go well with Korean/Asian food.  Recently, a friend of mine had a baby and when I asked her what I could do for her – she asked me to make some salad dressing. So I started out making one and then two and then three..basically because I couldn’t make up my mind. So I made these 3 salad dressings and bottled them in these jam jars which you can easily buy from any grocery store. I labeled them, had some fun with the lettering and realized what perfect gifts these pretty jars of dressing would make for any occasion!

The first dressing for Tofu Salad is totally my creation. I love love the tofu salad that is served at our local Tofu House restaurant and I ended up with this recipe after several trials and errors. It is a Soy Mustard dressing which has no oil in it so it tastes really refreshing and the mustard adds a bit of kick at the end which makes it go really well with many Asian or Korean dishes that are either quite heavy in garlic and other spices (as this does not have any garlic or onions) or quite mild (in which case this breaks up the mildness).

Tofu Salad/Soy Mustard dressing Ingredients

servings 4            prep time: 15 min       chill time: 10-2o min       difficulty: easy

  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T mirin (rice cooking wine)
  • 2 T white vinegar 0r rice vinegar works even better
  • 1 T + 1 tsp sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp oriental hot mustard (겨자 gyeoja) – made from yellow mustard powder (see my chapsal bulgogi post)

Tofu Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of firm tofu
  • 1/4 C sweet corn (canned)
  • 1/2 C imitation crab meat
  • 1/4 pack daikon sprouts
  • 1/2 iceberg lettuce or any other crunchy lettuce with a mild flavor
  • 1/4 tsp sesame seeds

1. Prepare the oriental hot mustard by mixing the mustard powder with water. You can also use the pre-made mustard in tubes but I find that they don’t taste as strong as the powder stuff. (See my Chapsal Bulgogi post for more info on how to make the mustard at home) Let it rest in room temperature for a few minutes while you prepare the salad ingredients.

2. Wash and tear the iceberg lettuce leaves into bite size pieces.

2. Cut the imitation crabmeat into 2 inch long pieces and tear them into thinner strips.

3. Drain the sweet corn from the can and set aside. Wash the daikon sprouts and cut off the roots.

4. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch squares about 1/3 inch thick. That’s just my preference – you can cut them in larger sizes but if the sizes are too big, I find that it leaves you with too much tofu in proportion to the dressing in your mouth making the salad taste too bland.

5. If you have time, chill the prepared salad ingredients in the fridge for 10-20 min. This will make the salad taste extra crunchy and yummy.

6. Prepare the dressing by mixing the soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, mustard and sugar. Since some cooking rice wines are sweeter than others, add the rice wine first and taste it. Then adjust the amount of sugar to taste. Chill in the fridge if you have time.

When you are ready to eat, toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

Tofu Salad with Soy Mustard dressing
Tofu Salad with Soy Mustard dressing

You can also use a pre-washed salad mix (use crispy textured lettuces) as I did in this picture.

Sesame Onion dressing is my second dressing.It is a modified version of the Strawberry Spinach Salad  dressing which I found in allrecipes.com. I made some changes to it by using purple onion instead and omitted the poppy seeds.

Servings: 2                Prep Time: 10 min                        Difficulty : easy

  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 T white sugar (less if you like it less sweet)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar (or 1 T if white vinegar)
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced purple onion (1 tsp if regular onion)
  • 2-3 ounces fresh spinach – rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cups strawberries – cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoons almonds, blanched and slivered (optional)
raspberry spinach and pomegranate salad
raspberry spinach and pomegranate salad

In the picture above, I used raspberries instead of strawberries and added pomegranate seeds to make it more festive for the holidays. Because of the onions, this salad can stand up to strong bold flavors that many Korean dishes have. I took it to my last Korean potluck dinner and everyone just loved it!

Lemon Vinaigrette is my last dressing. I made by mixing in some 2 T oil, 1 T lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1 tsp sugar. Nothing really special here but the lemon adds a wonderful simple freshness that will go with any meal.

Well, this about making some of your favorite salad dressings and giving them as gifts this holiday. Also try these delicious salads the next time when you have a Korean dinner party!

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