5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Japanese/ Recipes/ Salad

Wafu Dressing – Japanese Salad Dressing

19/01/2021

Wafu Dressing is an easy vinaigrette you can whip up in less than a minute. With the perfect balance of flavour from soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar, this Japanese salad dressing will bring effortless flavour to raw salads, vegetables and grilled meats.

A bowl of salad with wafu dressing on top.

Why We Love This

Like all good homemade sauces and dressings, this recipe has no additives or preservatives. 

Making your own salad dressings rather than buying store-bought is always a great idea. Many imported Japanese sauces (such as citrus/soy ponzu, sesame goma dare or okonomiyaki sauce) can be quite expensive to buy, but really easy to make if you have a few basic ingredients in your pantry. Making your own not only helps you save money, but you can make the perfect amount for what you need, and you can tweak the flavour to suit your taste

Just like spicy Indonesian Gado Gado salad, this amazing salad dressing will make you forget you’re eating vegetables. It’s the perfect balance of savoury, tart and sweet flavours all at once.

Wafu dressing in a bowl ready to be poured over the salad.

What is Wafu Dressing? 

Wafu translates as ‘Japanese-style’, so this dressing is perfect to infuse your tasty homemade salads with Japanese flavour. 

There are many variations to the recipe, however the key ingredients of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar are essential. 

Wafu dressing is often paired with osozai (healthy Japanese side dishes) commonly found in bento boxes or lunch sets at Japanese restaurants.

What You’ll Need

  • Soy Sauce – You can use any kind of regular or light soy sauce for this recipe. For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce. Tamari is also fine for a gluten-free option.
  • Rice Wine VinegarLook for this in the international aisle at your local supermarket, otherwise head to an Asian grocer or buy online. If you don’t have this, you can substitute for apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or white vinegar if that’s all you have on hand. 
  • Vegetable Oil – It’s best to use a neutral flavoured oil that will enhance rather than overwhelm the other seasonings. Canola oil, sunflower oil or vegetable oil are all good options. 
  • Sesame Oil – Traditionally, wafu dressing doesn’t contain sesame oil, however we love how it adds a depth of rich, nutty flavour. You can leave it out if you prefer. Choose a high quality brand for the best flavour as some sesame oils can have less flavour than others.
  • Sugar – Sugar in this recipe acts as a sweetener to offset the acidic tang of the vinegar and bring everything into balance. Any sugar is fine – we used white, but brown or raw sugar will work too. 
  • Garlic – Freshly chopped or minced garlic works. You can also add 1/2 tsp of ginger for an extra flavour hit if you like.
All the ingredients laid out for wafu dressing.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Portable Dressing – If you plan on taking wafu salad to work, store the dressing separately in a small tub. This will keep the salad leaves crisp and fresh rather than soggy.
  • Optional Garnish – Top with a sprinkling of white sesame seeds (toasted for extra flavour!) or shichimi togarashi (7 spice blend).

FAQs

What style of salad should I use for this dressing?

Just about any! Wafu dressing is perfect for leafy greens, raw veggies, or basically any kind of salad where you’re looking for a burst of sweet + savoury + tart flavour. Use it with finely shredded cabbage for a simple side dish, or pour it over freshly sliced cucumber, tomato and iceberg lettuce. We also love it paired with crunchy julienned carrots. 

In addition to salads, it’s also great for pouring over noodle bowls, rice dishes, and steamed or stir-fried veggies. You can even use it as a steak sauce or dipping sauce for enoki beef rolls.

Can I use olive oil in this recipe?

Olive oil has a strong flavour compared with vegetable oils like canola or sunflower oil. Since this can affect the overall flavour of this dressing, we don’t usually recommend it. Of course, if that’s all you have on hand, you can still use it. It could be a good idea to use less (start with 1 tsp), taste the dressing, and add more to your taste as required.

How long does it last?

It will last for up to a week if stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Variations

  • Add Flavour – Add grated fresh daikon, onion or ginger. You could even try a small amount of karashi mustard or fresh wasabi paste for zingy heat. 
  • Ponzu – Use homemade ponzu sauce instead of regular soy sauce for a burst of citrus flavour.
A bowl of Japanese Dressing next to a plate of brightly coloured salad.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

Prepared salad of cucumber, tomato, carrot and lettuce topped with wafu dressing.

Wafu Dressing – Japanese Salad Dressing

Wafu Dressing is an easy vinaigrette you can whip up in less than a minute. With the perfect balance of flavour from soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar, this Japanese salad dressing will bring effortless flavour to raw salads, vegetables and grilled meats.
Prep Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 1
Calories: 201kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Whisk everything together (vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper) in a small bowl, or pour directly into a bottle or jar and give it a shake.
  • Taste, and add a little more of any ingredient until you're happy with the flavour.
  • Use immediately, or store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Soy Sauce – You can use any kind of regular or light soy sauce for this recipe. For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce. Tamari is also fine for a gluten-free option.
  • Rice Wine VinegarLook for this in the international aisle at your local supermarket, otherwise head to an Asian grocer or buy online. If you don’t have this, you can substitute for apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or white vinegar if that’s all you have on hand. 
  • Vegetable Oil – It’s best to use a neutral flavoured oil that will enhance rather than overwhelm the other seasonings. Canola oil, sunflower oil or vegetable oil are all good options. 
  • Sesame Oil – Traditionally, wafu dressing doesn’t contain sesame oil, however we love how it adds a depth of rich, nutty flavour. You can leave it out if you prefer. Choose a high quality brand for the best flavour as some sesame oils can have less flavour than others.
  • Sugar – Sugar in this recipe acts as a sweetener to offset the acidic tang of the vinegar and bring everything into balance. Any sugar is fine – we used white, but brown or raw sugar will work too. 
  • Garlic – Freshly chopped or minced garlic works. You can also add 1/2 tsp of ginger for an extra flavour hit if you like.
  • Portable Dressing – If you plan on taking wafu salad to work, store the dressing separately in a small tub. This will keep the salad leaves crisp and fresh rather than soggy.
  • Optional Garnish – Top with a sprinkling of white sesame seeds (toasted for extra flavour!) or shichimi togarashi (7 spice blend).
  • Add Extra Flavour – Add grated fresh daikon, onion or ginger. You could even try a small amount of karashi mustard or fresh wasabi paste for zingy heat. 
  • Swap Soy Sauce for Ponzu – Use homemade ponzu sauce instead of regular soy sauce for a burst of citrus flavour.

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 1007mg | Potassium: 38mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Wafu Dressing - Japanese Salad Dressing

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