There is a new affection in my life; rich and buttery, fragrant and seductive, I’m in love with Toasted Sesame and Maple Dressing.
The affair first started with a simple noodle salad marketed by the Blue Hill Coop and prepared by Chow Mein Asian Specialties of Southwest Harbor. Bright, colorful, chopped scallions, cabbages, carrots and lettuces artfully arranged over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti noodles are topped with a delicious sesame dressing. I could not get enough of it; the crunch and texture of the vegetables, the delicate slurp of the noodles, the assertive salty, sweet, toasty, and rich sesame.
I carried the package home and studied the ingredients. Not only was the salad a work of art, it was an exciting opportunity to enjoy more summer vegetables. But it tasted to me that the key to this successful marriage was in the dressing.
Then the fun began, as I started experimenting with different variations of this Asian style sauce. For my gluten-free friends, out with the soy sauce, replaced with tamari. With a nod to localvores, Maine maple syrup is the sweetener instead of brown sugar. Toasting sesame seeds intensifies the sesame flavors, freshly grated ginger and garlic add depth, and hot chili flakes bring up the heat.
Toasted Sesame and Maple Dressing was the star on the 200 pasta and vegetable salads we prepared for the August meal of Dinner is Served. This versatile dressing is delicious as a marinade for chicken, scallops, and tofu. Grilling, frying or baking increase the sweet, salty and toasty flavors.
My latest creation is with Maine haddock: dredge the fish in flour mixed with toasted sesame seeds, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Toasted Sesame and Maple dressing, and bake the fish until it flakes in a 400 degree oven. For a spectacular supper, serve the fish on top of noodles and garnish with chopped seasonal veggies.
Toasted Sesame Maple Dressing
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (for a gluten-free dressing use tamari)
- 2 tablespoons Rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Maine maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon Red pepper flakes start with a few and add to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. To prevent burning, keep moving the skillet and shaking the seeds. Cook until the seeds are golden brown and have a nice, toasty fragrance.
- To prepare the dressing, whisk ingredients together in a small bowl, or add to a jar and shake. Makes 6 servings.