For many years I worked with Barbara Kafka, food maven, trend originator and predictor and one hell of a cook. Several years ago I had the pleasure to work with BK on Vegetable Love, the magnum opus of the vegetable world. Barbara had such an impact on my professional (and personal) life that when Food Arts magazine was looking for someone to write an article to coincide with the publication of Vegetable Love, they gave me a call. I was more than happy to oblige.
Barbara and I worked on everything from fine dining to a national root beer/fast food chain. The process was always the same. Come up with a thousand ideas, discard them, and start all over again. It drove some people crazy; I loved it. This dressing was a kind of running joke, not in a bad way but because it kept cropping up. No wonder, there are very few foods you can’t use it on. I amped up the sesame oil from the original version. Play with the amount of oil and other ingredients—except the tarragon, that I’d leave pretty much where it is—to see what works for you.
Makes about ½ cup (can be easily doubled)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Large pinch each of salt and ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard (if you have it)
¼ teaspsoon dried tarragon or minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Put all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Use right away or store in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature and shake well before using.
A few ideas for using soy-sesame dressing:
- Spoon over steamed vegetables. Cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, carrots and parsnips, or a mix of any of the above are particularly nice
- Add a little dab to your next batch of sautéed mushrooms
- Spoon over grilled or broiled swordfish* fillets, pan-seared scallops, or sautéed salmon fillets
- Use as a dipping sauce for shrimp or dressing for chicken salad
- Oh, and salad dressing. Goes very well with just about anything but a mix of Boston, Bibb and romaine is my fave.
*As a species, we haven’t been very good at sustaining the remarkable variety of food fish in our oceans. In fact, we seem to have made a practice of cleaning out whatever we can and moving on. Mark Kurlansky, in his excellent book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World chose this quote from Alexandre Dumas to open chapter 2: “ It has been calculated that if no accident prevented the hatching of the eggs and each egg reached maturity, it would take only three years to fill the sea so that you could walk across the Atlantic dryshod on the backs of cod.” He was right in one sense, overfishing was not an accident. I feel bad for the fishermen who, as Kurlansky says, “are at the wrong end of 1,000-year fishing spree,” but perhaps everyone can learn from Alaska’s Sustainable Fisheries Trust.
It can be confusing to keep track. Swordfish, for instance, can move back and forth between the “good” and “bad” lists. One very easy way to keep track is through Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Follow them on Twitter for regular updates.