My husband was an active duty Marine for 4 ½ years, and he is currently in the Reserves. I love the fact that he serves our country: he protects our way of life, loves what he does, and looks SO handsome in a uniform…how awesome is that?!?!
The Marine Corps sent him to Okinawa, Japan in 2008 and off we went! The Japanese culture is so different from ours that there was a little culture shock when we first moved there: everything is super tiny, they only have chopsticks in restaurants (that one took me a while to master), you can’t wear shoes inside, and you drive on the opposite side of the road.
Also, they have some of the most delicious restaurants I have ever eaten in. I’m convinced it was because all of their ingredients are so fresh. With an island 67 miles long and 14 miles wide, you pretty much have access to fresh fish wherever you are. And there are tons of farms scattered in the country side (can an island THAT small have countryside?!?! You better believe it!) They have farmers markets all over the place…fresh ingredients are bountiful in Okinawa.
After living there for 3 ½ years, you start to get attached to some of those restaurants. Coco Curry Ichibana still haunts my dreams, and who doesn’t love Yakiniku’s? But my favorite restaurant was Four Seasons Steakhouse (not to be confused by Four Seasons Resort)….and considering the fact that I have yet to come close to topping it; I would still consider it my favorite restaurant, even though I now live in Colorado. It’s a teppanyaki style restaurant, where there are 4-8 seats surrounding a grill where your personal chef creates dinner in front of you….and boy is it delicious. Salad, pasta, bread, rice, chicken, steak, shrimp, lobster, potatoes, bean sprouts, sushi, cheese sticks, soup….they have it all!
My favorite part of the meal was always the salad. It’s a beautiful mix of shredded cabbage and carrots, topped with corn and tomatoes tossed in some kind of soy/ vinegar dressing. I have no idea what the dressing was, all the people who work there spoke Japanese, so there was no one to ask. Every time we went I would always finish mine quickly, and then trade my soup for my husband’s salad. This stuff was seriously amazing. The dressing was my favorite part, I would literally use my spoon to get ALL of it off the plate, it was so good.
After moving back to the states, I started having withdrawals. I googled Four Seasons, hoping and praying there would be one SOMEWHERE in the United States…and there was! It’s in New York, but nope, it is not a teppanyaki grill. I NEEDED this salad dressing, so off to the grocery store I went. I tried every Asian dressing in the condiments aisle: one was too ginger-y, one too sesame-y, one too vinegar-y…there was nothing that matched.
So, in desperation, I turned to the internet, searching for a recipe that could even come close to that Okinawa goodness. I tried many, but none filled the void that had been created by Four Seasons….so off to the kitchen I went to experiment. After many trials and errors, I am proud to bring you
1 T olive oil
1T rice vinegar
2T soy sauce
1t minced garlic
1t onion powder
Place in bowl, whisk together, and toss with your favorite salad!
Now I know you’re wondering, “Now Alix, how could it be SO easy and taste THAT delicious??” Ahhhh, I’m glad you ask J Here is my reasoning: all those salad dressings at the store, all the recipes I tried on my own, they all had one thing in common….tons and tons of ingredients. While the commercial dressings were filled with dyes and preservatives, the homemade dressings were full of spices and sauces, things you don’t normally keep in your pantry. They were complicated and convoluted and…..not EASY needless to say. This dressing is simple…understated…refreshing….quick and easy. All things that remind me of when life was easy. So go ahead, make your life easier. Put down that bottle of commercial dressing and make some of your own.