Toshi Teriyaki’s Japanese Salad Dressing

While teriyaki take-out joints inhabit almost every food court and urban center across North America these days, it wasn’t always that way. In 1976, Toshihiro “Toshi” Kasahara opened Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill in an old, coverted house on lower Queen Anne near the Seattle Center. Through the mid-1980’s, my family lived a few blocks away and on the recommendation of my mom’s friend, our former neighbor Carol Barton, we walked down to the unassuming restaurant for dinner one night. We, like so many others across the city, were instantly hooked on the simple grilled teriyaki chicken and beef dinners served with rice and salad. Toshi’s eventually began franchising and to this day, serves customers all across the Puget Sound region. Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill

Everyone always raved about the dressing on the simple Asian-style coleslaw that accompanied the teriyaki and steamed rice. As the story goes, Carol brought so many new patrons to the original restaurant that when she asked for the recipe to the salad dressing, Toshi’s wife obliged. Carole gave a copy to my mom and it was so popular in our household, that she had it taped to the inside of the pantry door. The tape is still visible on the recipe sheet.

Japanese Dressing

You may notice that the original recipe calls for MSG. Believe it or not, back in my mother’s day, MSG was a common spice rack staple, right next to alum, arrowroot, and cream of tartar, all items you rarely find in pantries these days. After we determined that I had a sensitivity to MSG, my mom began to omit it and simply add a pinch more salt. MSG is a flavour enhancer, however, so I’ve found a couple of substitutes that deliver that necessary umami hit. I also increased the amount vinegar to give it a little more tang. - Anna

Makes 1+ cup or approx. 8 servings

  • ½ cup un-seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil (you can use another oil, but it should be fairly neutral in flavour)
  • 1 tsp La Tourangelle toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Laura Santini Taste #5 Original Umami Paste (substitutions: anchovy paste or Taste #5 Nobu Vegetarian Umami Paste)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper

Whisk all ingredients together very well and keep in the refigerator until ready to use. It will keep up to a week. Dress your salad just before serving. 

Serve this dressing over your favourite style of coleslaw - cabbage, carrot, or broccoli. Thinly sliced green onions and radish are nice additions. It’s also excellent over simple steamed vegetables and salads with shrimp or chicken. You can dress cold Asian noodles, rice, or quinoa, or try Carol’s Japanese Salad.

And just for fun, here’s a little article about Seattle style teriyaki in New York: Glaze Teriyaki Grill

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