Last night, in an attempt to provide an alternative to the delicious-but-predictable salad dressing my family always has – olive oil, a couple different vinegars, and spices – I decided to make this salad dressing by Pioneer Woman. Now, before we go forward, there are three things you need to know about Pioneer Woman’s recipes.
1) The woman has a relationship with milk fat that borders on the pathological. (My mom likes to say that all her recipes contain fortified fat.) Seriously, lady, butter is not a flavoring. Cream is not something we add to feel “naughty,” and we never add it to our burgers. Pesto does not need fucking cream or fucking butter under any fucking circumstances you nitwit. I know that as a Sicilian I’m in no position to judge others for their unhealthy attachments to certain ingredients (you can tear my olive oil from my cold dead hands), but I feel superior about this in two ways: olive oil is actually pretty good for you, and it doesn’t leave that gross film on your teeth that butter does when you cook shit in it. So almost any PW recipe I recommend will have drastically reduced amount of milk fat, be that in my substitutions of olive oil for butter or my executive decision to just leave the extra fourteen tablespoons of butter for flavor out of the damn recipe.
2) Her sweet tooth is alarming and ever-present. Sugar does not belong in dinner food. Ever. Of this I am very, very sure. Fuck your sweet potato casserole, those fucking things taste like goddamn candy right out of the oven. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with PW’s taste buds so that she can only taste “sweet” and “buttery,” but for the same reason as above, any PW recipe I recommend will almost certainly have drastically reduced sugar.
3) At bare minimum, she’s cooking for six every day (her incredibly handsome husband and four adorable children, I swear to god the entire website stepped right the fuck out of fantasy Norman Rockwell). So the quantities she recommends can be rather skewed. There are recipes of hers that I haven’t tackled yet because the math required to bring them down to manageable levels is more than I can deal with. They start with sentences like “take twenty chicken legs.” Even reasonable recipes tend to produce slightly more food than you expect, and this is no exception.
So this dressing. I do not love soy sauce and I never have. “But Sara!” you might wisely ask. “Why did you then choose to make a soy-sauce-based dressing?” That would be because I didn’t read the recipe closely before starting and did not realize that soy sauce made up nearly half the liquid ingredients. (Things like this are why they say to always read the recipe before starting out.) Nonetheless, I persevered. In the future, I might experiment with replacing some of the soy sauce with rice vinegar (to retain the Asian-y flavor matrix) or balsamic vinegar (to say fuck you to the Asian-y flavor matrix). Also, this is in a sense more of an adaptation than a direct attempt at the recipe, as I left out two “key” ingredients – brown sugar and jalapeno. If you make this with those ingredients, let me know how it comes!
Finally, for your reference: 16 tablespoons = 1 cup. 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup. No idea why she didn’t just convert that.
Notes and Verdict
Ginger-Soy Salad Dressing by Pioneer Woman
Notes: I only had 3/4 of a lime, so that’s how much I used. We didn’t have pure soy sauce, so I used the Kikkoman marinade we have (which pretty much tastes exactly the same as soy sauce). We had toasted sesame oil as opposed to regular sesame oil, so that’s what I used. (I’ve never worked with sesame oil before and am in no position to know the flavour difference between toasted and regular; does anyone know if the difference would be dramatic?) I also didn’t measure out 2 tablespoons of it, instead estimating 1/8 of a cup. Finally, I rarely if ever measure chopped ingredients into cups and the like, so the amount of ginger I used could have been somewhat more or less than 3 tablespoons. Big differences: I left out both the brown sugar and the jalapeno. I left out the brown sugar because Pioneer Woman obviously has a ridiculous sweet tooth that requires sugar in all the wrong places, and there’s no reason on earth to put sugar in salad dressing. (I had initially intended to taste it and then decide, but my mom was right in her ranting that no salad dressing needs sugar, and I left it out like a sensible person.) I have less of a good excuse for the jalapeno. I love spicy food, but I really hate the kind of spice imparted by physical hot peppers. It hurts in the bad way. I had intended to add some sriracha to replace the heat factor (and I can’t believe I’m now the kind of pretentious asshole who uses something as unrecognizeably named as “sriracha” in their cooking, shoot me now), but I forgot.
Verdict: This tasted nice the first day and straight-up awesome the second day. PW is wrong that you can’t add the cilantro if you’re going to save it; I did and it was fine. The first day the soy was stronger, but the second day the soy flavour mellowed out and the ginger took over, which was super nice. I will definitely make this again because my dad loves it. I don’t think ginger dressing of any kind will ever be my favorite, but this was definitely tasty. B+