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Shiitake Sesame Salad Dressing (Copycat recipe)

Inspired by a popular bottled dressing, this shiitake sesame salad dressing is loaded with umami flavor! You will love the fusion of toasted sesame oil, pungent shiitake mushrooms and tamari soy sauce. Mixed into a simple vinaigrette, they’ll give your salads a zesty Asian flavor zing!

shiitake sesame dressing in glass pitcher with fingers holding spoonful of dressing above the pitcher

Click here to save this Shiitake Sesame Salad Dressing recipe on Pinterest!

A gal-friend mentioned to me how much she likes the flavor of Annie’s Shiitake Sesame Salad Dressing. That began a whole conversation about salad dressings in general.

We talked about how so many store-bought salad dressings have added sugar, are filled with preservatives, and are costly, to boot. We love Annie’s dressings–although pricy, they’re quite good, and made with whole food ingredients.

We emphatically agree that homemade salad dressings are always better than purchased ones. For one, you can use better quality oil. My friend inspired me to come up with a homemade version of her favorite shiitake sesame salad dressing, and I think you’ll agree that my copycat recipe, made with even higher quality ingredients, is better than the original!

To make this dressing, you put everything except the sesame seeds in the blender. Use the pulse button or turn the blender off and on until the mushrooms are in bits and pieces. Add the sesame seeds, give the blender another pulse or two and call it good. For color and texture, you want little bits of mushrooms and sesame seeds visible in the dressing.

Alternatively, you can make this dressing by whisking everything together, although I think it comes out best made in the blender. Without a blender, be sure to chop the mushrooms into tiny bits, then stir them into the vinaigrette mix of oils, vinegar, tamari and the mushroom soaking water.

shrooms and sesame seeds in bowls

Shiitake sesame dressing ingredients:

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms bring their subtle pungent umami flavor to this vinaigrette dressing. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in boiling water and so they become spongy and sliceable, and use some of the nutritious soaking water in the dressing. You could also use the equally aromatic fresh shiitakes. Dried soaked or fresh, cut off the tough stems. I found packages of dried shiitakes at our local supermarket or you can order dried shiitake mushrooms online via my Amazon affiliate link.

cutting shrooms on wooden board

Toasted Sesame Oil

With rich nutty notes, toasted sesame oil adds its own umami touch. Look for unrefined expeller pressed. I like the dark Eden Foods toasted sesame oil (affiliate link) and you can find it in most natural food markets. Toasted sesame oil is more of a condiment oil–it has a low smoke point, which means that it burns and turns rancid-tasting at a low temperature–so don’t cook with it. Use it in this delicious curried brown rice and veggie salad.

Sesame Seeds

Toasting the seeds brings out their flavor. You can use hulled or unhulled sesame seeds. Usually I add the unhulled ones, but this time they only had the hulled ones. Sesame seeds stale quickly. Store them in the fridge and taste for freshness. Replace older seeds that have gone rancid.

Tamari Soy Sauce

Tamari tends to be sweeter with a more complex flavor than Chinese soy sauce. Adding more rich umami flavor, tamari is the salty component here. For gluten sensitivity choose the wheat-free variety.

Avocado Oil

To not obsure the umami ingredients in this dressing, use a light avocado oil. Canola oil is an option but not ideal–If you buy canola oil, be sure to use only organic expeller pressed.

Apple Cider Vinegar

From fermented apple cider, this faintly sweet vinegar brings it’s bright tang to the whole.

dressing in glass pitcher with spoon and bottle of dressing in background

About Umami

When we taste, the flavors that dance around in our mouth are the familiar salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. But there’s a fifth taste, umami. Umami (oo-MOM-ee) is more mysterious than the other four, it adds complexity to food, and has been described as tasty, savory, and even meaty.

My Hot and Sour Miso Soup, with both toasted sesame oil and shiitake mushrooms, is loaded with umami flavor!

Xanthan Gum

  • I add xanthan gum to this copycat salad dressing to make it less watery, but it’s optional and certainly not a crucial ingredient.
  • Many commercial salad dressings contain xanthan gum, a powder that makes liquids more viscous (so they stick easily to lettuce.) It can also act as an emulsifier, helping to keep the oil and vinegar from separating right away. It’s a fairly harmless additive, a bacteria, like yogurt or blue cheese, grown on (usually corn) sugars.
  • Another use for Xanthan gum (affiliate link) is as a binding ingredient in gluten-free baking. Bob’s Red Mill (affiliate link) sells it in a huge bag. To use up a bag you’d need to make this vinaigrette a million times, or go on a gluten-free baking spree.

More homemade salad dressings:

  • Red wine vinegar, V-8 juice, and herbs come together in this tangy copycat riff of Robbie’s “homemade” salad dressing.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and mix up a pretty salad with this dressing!

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This is an updated recipe of the sesame shiitake vinaigrette recipe I posted back in June 2015!

11 comments

  • […] I am finally reading this important book thanks to recorded books on CD. Did you know that xanthan gum, used in many of our favorite store-bought salad dressings, is likely made from corn? So much to […] Reply · 10 January, 2011

  • I so support “copycat’ bottled dressing because it doesn’t matter what your culinary skills are – you can make dressing. Bottled dressing is often filled with stuff you don’t really wanna eat. GREG Reply · 11 June, 2015

    • Letty

      Here here Greg. My hubbie likes his Paul Newman but I make him buy the only ONE without sugar. And then he splits the dressing into 2 bottles–adds 8oz of V-8, balsamic and (more than one) clove of garlic. And more black pepper. I kinda like it buy prefer my homemades for quality oil. Reply · 12 June, 2015

  • […] P. S. You might also like this sesame shiitake salad dressing. […] Reply · 12 June, 2015

  • Love the strips of nori. Reply · 13 June, 2015

  • Thanks for this recipe! I’ve added it to the Farm Fresh Feasts Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks who love to eat from the farm share.
    I appreciate it! Reply · 18 June, 2015

    • Letty

      Appreciate you back Kirsten! Reply · 18 June, 2015

  • […] might also like this Sesame Shiitake Vinaigrette, or this Maple Pecan […] Reply · 31 December, 2015

  • […] You might also want to check out my other Annie’s copycat vinaigrette recipe–Sesame Shiitake Vinaigrette! […] Reply · 17 May, 2016

  • Cascadian

    I’m a huge fan of Annie’s Sesame Shitake Vinagrette but not such a fan of not knowing what oil I’m eating (the ingredients list on Annie’s isn’t specific). I just made your recipe with avocado oil, and it turned out great! Thank you so much for sharing. Reply · 28 January, 2018

    • Thank you! I am stoked you like the recipe! Reply · 29 January, 2018

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